Facebook introduces Yoruba, Igbo, Swahili to check fake news.

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Social media platform, Facebook, in partnership with Africa Check, has added new local language support for several African languages to fortify its third-party fact-checking programme.

The initiative helps to assess the accuracy of news on the platform, thereby reducing the spread of fake news.

Launched in 2018 across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroun, Facebook entered into the collaboration with the continent’s first independent fact-checking organisation to expand its local language coverage across Nigeria in Yoruba and Igbo in addition to Hausa; Swahili in Kenya; Wolof in Senegal and Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa.

The company made the announcement yesterday in Johannesburg, the commercial capital of South Africa.

The Guardian check showed that as at the beginning of the year, of the about 67 million Facebook users in Africa, Nigeria had 27 million with 14 million being active daily users. There are, however, projections that the figure would rise to 30.4 million by 2023.

Commenting on the additions, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, Kojo Boakye, said: “We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform while building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities. Our third-party fact-checking programme 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. We know there is still more to do, and we are committed to this.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Africa Check, Noko Makgato, noted: “We are thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, but it also means we will be reaching more people across Africa with verified and credible information.”

Facebook’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from its community, as one of many signals it uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review.

The American company explained that local articles would be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos.

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