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Meta is Set to Tackle Election Misinformation in South Africa

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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An election is an eventful experience in the African region, especially in South Africa. The country getting ready for election day receives a lot of support from different industries and networks. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is not left behind.

Meta

The company has interacted with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to limit misinformation on its app. It assured the office that all its platforms would flag down any wrong information passed on its social media platforms. 

Meta Trains IEC In Preparation for South African Election

Nick Clegg, the Meta President of Global Affairs, emphasized that Meta has revealed to South Africa’s IEC the intricateness of using its social media constructively. Furthermore, he explained how they taught the commission to use WhatsApp bots to share relevant information with the citizens.

According to a study, about 26 million South Africans use different social media platforms, about 42.8 % of the population. The statistics make misinformation a greater risk to the democracy of the country. With the rise of digital usage, especially AI in Africa, many South Africans use social media platforms to get ample information about their country. This situation allows the fast spread of misinformation. 

IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya said in a statement, “The dissemination of misinformation has huge potential to undermine the fairness and credibility of elections. Credible information is the lifeblood of all democracies. Trustworthy information is crucial in the process that enables citizens to choose their leaders,”

Agreements To Combat Misinfomation in South Africa Election

Meta highlighted that combating election misinformation in 2024 will pose challenges. This is due to the rise of new technologies and AI on the internet. Furthermore, AI usage has skyrocketed in the last few months, and in the right hands, it is a useful tool. However, it has been used to create numerous false content. 

Meta President, Nick Clegg, stated, “I spend probably the bulk of my time on exactly that (generative AI): how do we use that we have the right guardrails in place, given this technology is so new?” 

He further stated that Meta entered into a voluntary agreement with South Africa’s IEC to deal with misinformation. 

The agreement, which took place in February at the 60th annual Munich Security Conference, included other tech giants. The companies include Adobe, X, Amazon, OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, IBM and TikTok

Nick emphasized that identifying the origin of misinformation, and its content is significant in getting a solution to it. He said, “You can’t control or regulate something you can’t identify in the first place”. He further stated that “Identifying the origin, provenance, and genesis of synthetic content is important”.

Meta Releases Policies For Misinformation Management

The public policy director for Africa at Meta, Balkissa Idè Siddo, also said, “As our platforms continue to play an important role in civic discussions around the world, including here in South Africa, we know we have an important responsibility.

Using lessons from the past and input from a range of experts, including dedicated and local teams within Meta, we continue to make substantial investments to help take aggressive steps in fighting abuse or misinformation across our platforms, while rolling out policies and products to ensure a safe and secure general election.

“We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the South African Electoral Commission.”

Meta has rolled out policies that stand against cyber threats; threats posed against South Africa’s democracy. This is a huge relief to South Africa, as it recently introduced a new registration system. The new registration system allows citizens in the country or abroad to register to vote in the national election. 

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Abdullahi Kafayat
Abdullahi Kafayat

Abdullahi Kafayat is an enthusiastic writer interested in the tech world. She's a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University and has a BSc in Chemistry. You can reach her at Kafayatabdullahi17@gmail.com.

Articles: 185

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