Facebook Africa has launched third-party fact-checking in partnership with Africa Check and AFP to help assess the accuracy of news in South Africa and reduce the spread of misinformation.
Both Africa Check and AFP are part of a global network of fact-checking organisations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.
Facebook's fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals the platform 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 its fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in the News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.
“We're committed to South Africa, and take our responsibility seriously in tackling the spread of false news, and helping to improve the quality of information people find on our platform," said Emilar Gandhi, Facebook public policy manager for the SADC region. "Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we're able to reduce its future views by an average of 80%, helping to curb economic incentives and reduce its spread.”
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When third-party fact-checkers write articles about a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in the News Feed. Page admins and other users will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that's been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.
"We are pleased to partner with Africa Check and AFP to expand our fact-checking efforts into South Africa, joining the recently launched Kenya programme, with the aim of fighting the spread of misinformation via news articles, photos and videos," said Jocelyne Muhutu Remy, Facebook's strategic partner manager: Digital Partnerships.
Commenting on the partnership, Anim van Wyk, chief editor of Africa Check said that “up until now, Africa Check has had to play catch-up with misinformation that harms that is shared on social media. Partnering with Facebook enables us to limit its spread very early on a key platform. It's a huge and exciting step forward for us”.
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AFP global news director Michèle Léridon said: “We are delighted with this new contract with Facebook in South Africa and Kenya alongside Africa Check, which is renowned for its fact checking work in Africa. The different initiatives set up by AFP in the fight against disinformation testify to the agency’s expertise and credibility in the verification of information at a time when false news is proliferating.”