Facebook Determined To Fight Fake News In Kenya With Educational Tool

By Peter Pedroncelli Published: August 3, 2017, 6:23 am
Facebook is helping Kenyans to spot fake news. Photo - BBCFacebook is helping Kenyans to spot fake news. Photo - BBC

In an effort to limit hate speech and combat fake news in Kenya ahead of national elections in the country, Facebook has launched a tool that seeks to educate users on how to identify stories that are genuine from those that are fake.

The social media site has provided a tool at the top of user news feeds from which users are directed to the Facebook Help Center, where they will be given access to information that will assist them in determining which news articles are fake.

Available in both English and Swahili, the tool and information will be shown to seven million Kenyans who are active on Facebook on a monthly basis, and will be available for the next few days until the election, according to ITNewsAfrica.

In addition to the efforts on the website, Facebook and WhatsApp are placing educational notices in some of Kenya’s national newspapers and adverting on radio stations with 10 tips on how to identify fake news stories.

Kenyans will be heading to the polls on August 8 for elections, and the spread of fake news in recent times has gotten out of control.

With social media being the primary source of news for many people, those peddling falsehoods have used such platforms to spread inaccurate content.

During the primary elections in April, fake news purporting to be from the Daily Nation reported that a candidate had defected from the opposition coalition to the ruling party, while two fake video reports imitating international news agencies suggested inaccurately that president Uhuru Kenyatta was ahead in the polls, according to Quartz.

Aiming to stop fake news in Kenya

Ebele Okobi is the director of policy for Facebook Africa, and he expressed the social media platform’s thoughts on the scourge of fake news in Kenya, as well as the plans in place to combat it.

“We take fighting fake news issues seriously, because people want to see accurate information on Facebook,” Okobi said, according to NairobiNews.

“We’ve developed a three-part strategy to stop the spread of misinformation: disrupting the economic incentives for the spammers who attempt to distribute false news, building new products, and helping people better identify false news and report it,” he added.

Some of the tips that Facebook is sharing with Kenyan users include checking the web address of potentially fake articles, taking a closer look at the source and images used, as well as looking for other reports on the topic.

Facebook have dedicated themselves to the fight against fake news in recent months, and in April used their blog to document a list of efforts planned against those peddling false news, including reducing financial incentives for those responsible, taking action against fake accounts, and applying machine learning to help limit spam.

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