Meta, announced some of the work it’s been doing to support election integrity ahead of Kenya’s elections on August 9th, 2022.
It says that the work is motivated by its previous experience in helping over 200 elections around the world, including significant elections in Sub-Saharan Africa. Meta’s dedicated teams have also been working closely with election authorities and trusted partners in countries that are holding elections to customize their strategies and take appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats and ensure that they are prepared long before people cast their votes.
“We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping people participate in elections and to ensure safe, secure, and free elections. Using lessons from the past and input from experts and policymakers across the political 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, “Meta Public Policy Director for East Africa and Horn of Africa Mercy Ndegwa said.
According to Meta here are some of the interventions in the Kenya elections:
- Creation of a global cross-functional team dedicated to the Kenya elections, which includes Kenyans and people who have spent significant time in the country, because we recognize the importance of local knowledge.
- Prioritizing the safety of individuals using our service, particularly during elections, by following the direction of our Community Standards, which outline what is and isn’t allowed on our service in order to keep people safe while simultaneously maintaining their right to free expression.
- Decreasing the danger of problematic content going viral in Kenya and potentially inciting violence or hatred before or during the election by temporarily limiting the dissemination of content from people who have repeatedly or severely broken our policies so that fewer people see it We limited the number of persons to whom you could transmit a message on Whatsapp to five at a time in 2019 and added the ‘forwarded’ and ‘very forwarded’ labels to indicate when something had been shared several times.
- Working with our fact-checking partners in Kenya (AFP, Africa Check, and PesaCheck) to assess and rate possibly inaccurate content on our platforms, label it, and move it lower in our feed so that fewer people see it. We are careful not to restrict political communication, however, because we believe in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the idea that political speech is the most scrutinized.
- Making political advertisements more transparent, anyone wishing to run political advertisements in Kenya must now go through a verification process to establish who they are and that they live in Kenya. These ads are labeled with a disclaimer so you can know who paid for them, and they’re kept in our public Ads Library for seven years so anybody can see what’s running, who viewed them, and how much was spent. We also provide controls so that Kenyans can opt-out of seeing any of the political ads that include a disclaimer.
- Fighting voter interference through our specialized teams, which are striving to stop coordinated inauthentic behavior, such as the deployment of sophisticated networks of Pages, Groups, and accounts to try to sway public opinion. Since 2017, we’ve taken down over 150 networks throughout the world for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior, including ahead of important elections. We’ve increased the number of people working on security and safety problems to over 40,000, which includes security specialists, AI and machine learning engineers, and content reviewers.
- We want Kenyans to receive accurate information about how and when to vote on our platforms, therefore we’re promoting civic engagement as part of our Kenya 2022 elections integrity work. We’ll have a “I Voted” sticker on Instagram in Kenya, and on election day, we’ll encourage Kenyans to vote with a notification on top of their Facebook News Feed via our elections day reminder.
- Supporting digital literacy in Kenya through partnerships in programs like “My Digital World,” which aims to improve digital and media literacy and raise awareness among youth, teachers, parents, and guardians on topics like online safety, privacy, digital citizenship, news, and media literacy via live instructor-led and hybrid sessions. We’re assisting teachers and parents by giving training sessions with the goal of preparing them with the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to help their students responsibly and safely navigate the digital world through a relationship with iEARN Kenya.
“Using lessons from the past and input from experts and policymakers across the political 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,“ Mercy concluded.