December 7, 2022

Fake news: Meta invests $16 billion in teams, technology

By Juliet Umeh

Few months before Nigeria’s general elections, the parent body of Facebook and Instagram, Meta announced that it has invested over $16 billion in its team and technology in order to fight fake news and misinformation.

The technology giant said the investment has prepared its team to combat the spread of misinformation and also make political advertising more transparent to uphold the integrity of the elections taking place in 2023.

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Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Mrs Adaora Ikenze disclosed this on Wednesday during a media roundtable in Lagos.

Ikenze said: “In keeping people safe, since 2016, we have quadrupled the size of the global teams working on safety and security to about 40,000 people, and have invested more than $16 billion in teams and technology in this area.

“This also includes over 15,000 content reviewers, who are located across the globe, in every major time zone. Collectively, these reviewers are able to review content in more than 70 languages – including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

“We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections. Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections.

“We continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we’re preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats.

In addressing virality, she said, “On WhatsApp bulk or automated messaging is a violation of our terms of service. If we find instances of people misusing the service we remove those accounts.

“We continue to constrain forwarding and earlier in 2022, we announced that any message that has been forwarded once, will now only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which was the previous limit.

“When we introduced the same feature for highly forwarded messages, it reduced the number of these messages sent on WhatsApp by over 70 per cent. We also label ‘forwarded’ and ‘highly forwarded’ messages to highlight when something has been shared multiple times.

“We have introduced forward limits to Messenger too, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time.”