6 Ways Facebook Is Helping to Protect 2020 Election in Ghana?

As Facebook continues to play a larger role in civic discussions around the world, we are working hard to prevent any abuse of our platforms, especially during elections. We have made massive investments to help prevent election interference, to fight misinformation and voter suppression, and to increase transparency in political advertising

Here’s what you need to know about the steps we are taking ahead of the 2020 election in Ghana.

Keeping People Safe

• Keeping people on Facebook and Instagram safe is always our top priority—but this is especially important during elections, when highly charged campaigns can lead to violence and harassment.

  • We have a global set of rules—called our Community Standards—which set out what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook and Instagram. These include strict rules on inciting violence, hate speech, voter suppression, and harassment.
  • If someone shares something that you think violates our rules we want to hear about it, which is why we have reporting tools available so people can let us know and we can investigate. If you post something that goes against our rules, we will remove it.
  • Since 2016 we have tripled the size of the teams working on safety and security to more than 35,000 people, and hired more systems engineers, security experts and content reviewers, and hired more systems engineers, security experts and content reviewers, including native language speakers in Swahili.
  • We have also pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to find and remove harmful content quicker. Between April and June we removed over 15 million pieces of graphic and violent content globally—we detected over 99% proactively, before anyone has to report it to us.

Combating Misinformation

  • We are working hard to fight the spread of misinformation on our services, because we know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram—and so do we.
  • Multiple independent studies now show the Facebook has cut engagement with false news more than half.
  • We remove misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm, such as statements from content that present a credible threat to the public or personal safety of people.
  • We also remove misinformation which could prevent people from voting such as false news related to the dates, location, time, and voting methods.
  • For false claims which don’t violate our Community Standards, we work with over 70 independent fact-checking organisations around the world. In Ghana we work with Dubawa to review and rate the accuracy of content shared on Facebook and Instagram
  • Warning labels are attached to content rated false or partially false these fact checkers. When people see these warnings, research shows that the majority do not click through to the original post. Content rated “false” or “partly false” also receives reduced distribution in Facebook’s newsfeed, so people are less likely to see it. We also show related articles from fact-checkers for more context and notify users if a story they’ve shared is rated as false.
  • We also want to make sure people can spot false news and know how to flag it to us. That’s why we started an we started a campaign in Ghana to distribute educational tips on Facebook on how to spot false news—called ‘Three Questions To Help Stamp Out False News’.

Akua Gyekye writes on how Facebook Is Supporting Elections Across Africa

Addressing Virality

• We’ve made fundamental changes to our products to address virality, and reduce the spread of content—including misinformation—that can amplify and exacerbate violence and conflict.

Fighting Interference

• We block millions of fake accounts at registration every day, and we continuously build and update our technical systems to make it easier to respond to reports of abuse, detect and remove spam, identify and eliminate fake accounts, and prevent accounts from being compromised.

  • On WhatsApp we’ve banned mass-messaging. We use machine-learning to identify and ban accounts engaged in this behavior, and we ban around 2 million accounts a month globally for this type of abuse.
  • We’ve also reduced the number of people you can forward a message to to just five chats at once and introduced the ‘forwarded’ and ‘highly forwarded’ labels to highlight when something has been shared multiple times. We have since further reduced the number of people you can send a “highly forwarded” message to to just one chat at once, which has resulted in a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages on WhatsApp.
  • We recently announced that we are introducing these forward limits to Messenger too, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time. Limiting forwarding is an effective way
    to slow the spread of viral misinformation and harmful content that has the potential to cause real world harm.

Increasing the Transparency

• We believe political discussion and debate should be transparent to every voter, which is why over the past few years we’ve introduced a number of tools that provide more information about political ads on Facebook and Instagram.

 

  • In August, we made these political ads transparency tools mandatory in Ghana. As a result, anybody who wants to run political ads in Ghana must now go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Ghana. We then run additional checks
    to ensure compliance with our policies.
  • Every political ad in Ghana is also labelled with a “paid by” disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them. We also put all political ads that run in Ghana in our Ads Library so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent. This fully searchable archive will store these ads for seven years.
  • These changes mean that political advertising on Facebook and Instagram is now more transparent than other forms of election campaigning, whether that’s billboards, newspaper ads, direct mail, leaflets or targeted emails.
  • Between April and June, we disabled 1.5 billion fake accounts globally—up from 800m during the same period in 2018.
  • We have tripled the size of the teams working on safety and security to more than 35,000 people and hired specialised teams to investigate and remove sophisticated networks of Pages, Groups and accounts on Facebook involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour—when groups of people using fake profiles work together to manipulate public debate. These can be domestic campaigns, or campaigns operated foreign entities, including foreign governments.
  • In the past year alone, we’ve taken down over 50 of these networks worldwide, many ahead of major democratic elections.

Civic  Engagement

  • Helping to build informed and civically engaged communities is central to our work around elections. In Ghana, we have engaged in conversations with civic stakeholders such as the Electoral Commission and civil society organisations to inform them on our work around elections, and have also conducted virtual training on ads enforcement and civic engagement with political parties.
  • We have focussed on educating these groups on how Facebook can be a positive tool for civic engagement. We also talked them through our Community Standards which govern what is allowed and not allowed on Facebook and Instagram, our ad transparency tools and the steps they can take to stay safe while using our platforms.
  • We have focussed on educating these groups on how Facebook can be a positive tool for civic engagement. We also talked them through on our Community Standards which govern what
    is allowed and not allowed on Facebook and Instagram, our ad transparency tools and the steps they can take to keep safe while using our platforms.

 

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Kwame Anane

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