Online social media and networking service, Facebook is planning to combat fake news through the use of Yoruba, Igbo and other African languages.
According to Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, Kojo Boakye, the social media platform is expanding its local language coverage across Nigeria by adding Yoruba and Igbo to its list of languages which already has Hausa.
The move, which is part of an ongoing third–party fact-checking programme in partnership with Africa Check, an independent fact-checking organisation, is aimed at checking and confirming the accuracy of news on Facebook in order to reduce the spread of misinformation.
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Other African languages included in the programme are Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa, Swahili in Kenya and Wolof in Senegal. Each of these is a major language with over a million native speakers.
Why this matters: Facebook’s move to include local languages is commendable because given the language diversity in African countries where Facebook has grown widely popular, fake news is bound to be posted in local languages.
So, this fact–checking programme means users don’t always have to access sources to be sure about the authenticity of news as it will already be provided for them on Facebook.
More fake news on WhatsApp? When it comes to fake news, reports have it that the WhatsApp messaging platform poses a bigger threat even more than Facebook. The platform has been said to be the most popular social media messaging app in Africa.
In the past, WhatsApp had been used by politicians both legitimately and otherwise, especially in places like Kenya and Nigeria during elections.
Therefore, WhatsApp should also be investigated in order to prevent the spread of false messages and the illegal activities of hackers on both individual and group accounts on the app.