Facebook expands its fact-checking program to 10 African countries

Tuesday October 8 2019

A Facebook user gets updates on his mobile phone

A Facebook user gets updates on his mobile phone during the mock 'swearing-in' of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president’ at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on January 30, 2018. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

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Social media giant Facebook has announced the expansion of its third-party fact-checking program to ten African countries.

In a statement on Tuesday, Facebook said the expansion was aimed at assessing the accuracy and quality of news on its platform while curbing the spread of misinformation.

“Working with a network of fact-checking organisations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP; Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP; Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through France 24 Observers and AFP; Guinea Conakry through France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa,” the statement read.

The platform, launched in 2018, is already available in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal.

The three-step process relies on feedback from users to flag potentially fake photos and articles to fact-checkers for review and verification.

Once detected as false, Facebook will relegate the item on its timeline substantially limiting its circulation.


Other than English and French, the program is available in Swahili, Afrikaans, Setswana, Sotho, Zulu, Ndebele, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Wolof.

Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said “AFP will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation”

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said the development shows Facebook's commitment to tackling fake news problem.

“While we've made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news,” said Mr Boakye.

Pesa Check’s Managing Editor Eric Mugendi said: "The project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm."

Pesa Check will do its verifications in Swahili and English.

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) added: “Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

For his part, Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”