Facebook Raises Efforts To Help Nigeria Tackle Misinformation On Coronavirus


By Cyber Era Reporter

As global numbers continue to rise, and with Coronavirus (Covid-19) reported in a number of countries across Africa, including in Nigeria, Facebook continues in its commitment in helping to keep people safe and informed globally, and locally through local partnerships, and updates to its platform. These efforts include:

Supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) – Facebook continues to partner with organizations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation, including on Pages. To help bolster and extend these efforts, the company is also providing ad credits to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to enable them to run coronavirus education campaigns on Facebook in Nigeria.

Supporting global health organisations in fundraising – As people come together on Facebook for this critical relief effort, we’re supporting the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Facebook Fundraiser with US$10M in matching donations. We’re also working with the CDC Foundation to launch a Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks, and we will also match up to US$10M.

Providing dedicated educational pop-ups in partnership with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

Medical Supply Hoarding/Coronavirus Ad and Commerce Policy Changes – Our ongoing work to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus also applies to advertising. We launched a new policy prohibiting ads for products that refer to the coronavirus in ways intended to create a panic or imply that their products guarantee a cure or prevent people from contracting it, this includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. We are also temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks

Limiting misinformation and harmful content – Our global network of third-party fact-checkers are continuing their work in reviewing content and debunking false claims that are spreading related to the coronavirus. In Nigeria this includes AFP and AfricaCheck, with the latter supporting local languages including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa

Removing Harmful Health Misinformation: We will also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. We are doing this as an extension of our existing policies to remove content that could cause physical harm. We’re focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can

On Instagram – We’ve moved WHO and other authoritative sources to top of Search, so people can easily find the most accurate information. We’ll also no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects, unless they are developed in partnership with a recognized health organization

Facebook Groups – We are focused on connecting people with authoritative sources and reducing the spread of harmful misinformation, including in Groups. Anyone who searches for Coronavirus related groups is directed to credible information from health organizations. We already reduce the distribution of any groups that repeatedly share false news, and we are also starting to remove coronavirus related groups and pages from the recommendations we show people

Creation of the Business Resource Hub – Supporting businesses being affected – directly or indirectly – by the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Hub features resources and recommendations to help small businesses stay connected to customers and keep their business on track. It also includes quick and easy access to credible and accurate information about COVID-19 to help small businesses and the communities they serve, stay informed.

WhatsApp API with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC): We are working with NCDC to develop a Coronavirus hotline utilising the WhatsApp Business API. The service will provide people who have opted in for updates with official health information about the developing Coronavirus situation.

WhatsApp Fact Checking Pilot – We continue to run several WhatsApp fact checking pilots across selected countries including India, Brazil and Nigeria (via AfricaCheck) to improve researchers ability to gather misinformation that may be circulating on WhatsApp and respond to users with accurate information

Commenting on these specific efforts in Nigeria, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze said: “We are committed to partnering with governments, technology companies, and civil society to respond to the immense challenges presented at this time, this is an ever evolving situation, where we will continue to support the relevant bodies, both locally and globally. We also encourage all users to check the facts via official public health agencies before sharing messages that have been forwarded to them, and to engage directly with trusted and official sources for important information.”

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