Meta enhances Kenya’s political ads transparency ahead of elections

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Facebook-owner, Meta, has announced new strategies for Kenya to curb the spread of misinformation on its platforms ahead of the general election slated for August 9.

The tech giant says advertisers seeking to run political ads on Facebook and Instagram will have to go a mandatory verification process to verify their identity to ensure they are based in Kenya.

This comes amid calls by various groups pressing social media companies to act on curbing disinformation being spread on their platforms especially during elections.

Facebook has risen to become the largest online marketing platform backed by growing number of active users and advertisers alike.

Last year, the American-based tech giant raked in $115 billion (Ksh 13.8 trillion) in ad revenues alone which grew 37pc.

Meta currently has 3.8 billion monthly active users on its three platforms with Facebook accounting for more than 2.9 billion monthly active users.

In Kenya there are an estimated 12 million Facebook users.

Meta Director of Public Policy East and Horn of Africa Mercy Ndegwa has said with Meta Ad Transparency tools, all political ads must be labelled with a “Paid for by” disclaimer to show who is behind it.

The Meta Ads Library will also ensure everyone can see what ads are running, information about targeting and find out how much money was spent.

“As our platforms continue to play an important role in civic discussions around the world, including here in Kenya, we know we have an important responsibility especially during times of elections,” said Ndegwa.

The firm says in six months to April 30, 2022, its has quadrupled the size of its global team focused on safety and security to more than 40,000 people and hiring more local content reviewers.

During the period, Meta says it took action on more than 37,000 pieces of content for violating its Hate Speech policies on Facebook and Instagram in Kenya and more than 42,000 pieces of content that violated its Violence & Incitement policies.

Facebook has been under scrutiny since the US election in 2016 and Kenya election in 2017 over data breach aided by now defunct Cambridge Analytica.

“Using lessons from the past, and input from a range of experts, including dedicated and local teams within Meta, we’ve made substantial investments to help take aggressive steps in fighting abuse across our platforms, whilst rolling out policies and products to help ensure a safe and secure General Election,” added Ndegwa.

With the ever increasing number of new users on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, Meta says it has deployed a combination of artificial intelligence, human review and user reports to quickly identify and remove content that violate its community guidelines.

Users who have previously violated the guidelines will also temporarily see a reduction in distribution of content on the Facebook and Instagram.

Last year, Meta reduced the the number people users can send a highly forwarded message on WhatsApp to one chat and this has led to a 70pc drop in the number of highly forwarded messages.

Additionally, Messenger users are only allowed to forward a message to five people or groups at a time.

Meta has similarly partnered with AFP, Pesa Check and Africa Check, third party factcheckers who will review content in both English and Swahili during the period.

The announcement by Meta comes after TikTok which does to allow paid political ads on its platform rolled out the Kenya General Election hub to curb disinformation.

  

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