Facebook fights fake news using more African languages

Facebook has announced more African languages will be covered in its effort to curb fake news.

The social media giant said the new language support is part of its third-party fact-checking program in partnership with Africa Check, an independent fact-checking organization.

According to a joint statement released by Africa Check and Facebook on Wednesday, the number of languages covered by the fact-checking effort will expand by 10. This will include South Africa’s Afrikaans; Swahili, widely spoken in Kenya; Nigeria’s Yoruba; and Wolof, native to Senegal.

The program, launched in 2018, helps to monitor the accuracy of news shared on Facebook.

Noko Makgato, executive director of Africa Check, says the expansion helps ensure that misinformation in languages other than English and French can be identified and tackled.

Makgato said the Africa Check team will review and rate video, text, and photo content that have been flagged as possibly containing fake news.

“Our job is to review this content, provide a rating and an informative article. The system allows us to rate content based on a range of options from ‘true’ to ‘mixture (of true and false),’ ‘satire,’ ‘opinion’ and ‘false,'” he said.

Facebook said it relies on technology and feedback from its community to flag potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review.

Stories identified as inaccurate will be shown lower in the social site’s news feed, reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s head of public policy for Africa, says the social media giant will continue to invest in efforts to curb the spread of false news.

“We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities,” Boakye said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Our third-party fact-checking program is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook,” he added.