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Facebook adds local languages to fact-checking

Facebook and Africa Check have expanded their local language coverage as part of the social network’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Programme

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Facebook and Africa Check have announced that they have added new local language support for several African languages as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme, which helps to assess the accuracy of news on Facebook and aims to reduce the spread of misinformation.  They have added no less than six South African languages to the programme, and three languages from other African countries.

Launched in 2018 across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon, Facebook has partnered with Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, to expand its local language coverage across:

  • Nigeria, in Yoruba and Igbo, adding to Hausa which was already supported
  • Swahili in Kenya
  • Wolof in Senegal
  • AfrikaansZuluSetswanaSothoNorthern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa

 “We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities,” said Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa. “Our third-party fact-checking programme is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook. We know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to this.”

Noko Makgato, executive director of Africa Check, said: “We’re thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. 

“Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, it also means we’ll be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information.”

Facebook’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community. It says this feedback is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

However, this still leaves open the question of why Facebook allows stories to remain on its platform after they have been proven false. Despite showing lower in news feeds, they continue generating advertising revenue, and may open Facebook to liability for legal or governmental action in future.

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