Facebook accused of allowing misinformation campaigns in African elections; co responds, includes plan to open content review centre in Nairobi

Author: Larry Madowo, BBC News, Published on: 28 May 2019

"Is Facebook undermining democracy in Africa?", 24 May 2019.

Facebook is under fire in Africa for undermining democracy, with critics saying the social media giant has allowed its platform to be weaponised for co-ordinated misinformation campaigns...last week Facebook...banned Archimedes Group, which it said was responsible for a network of those masquerading as African nationals, and removed 265 Facebook and Instagram pages and groups involved in "co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour" mainly targeting Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia...Some feel the continent's weak regulations on privacy and data protection have meant Africa has been used as a "guinea pig" for privacy violations...In reaction to last week's Facebook announcement, Congolese blogger Simeon Nkola Matamba tweeted: "The question should rather be, why does Facebook feel comfortable doing in Africa what they'd be less likely to do in other parts of the world?...regulators must up their game (if they have any) and protect people's rights."...The Archimedes Group has not returned the BBC's repeated requests for comment and has removed all instances of its work from its website...

Many of the now-deleted pages focused on the 2019 Nigerian elections, a review by US-based political think tank The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) found out...Facebook is beloved by younger Africans...The youth, who form the majority of the electorate in most African countries, are also most likely to be influenced online..."People that use these networks actually feel that this information is coming from Facebook, not realising that it's a third party putting the information there, so Facebook needs to take responsibility for how its platform is being used," says Ms Enonchong...

But the company dismissed that suggestion in a response to the BBC. "To imply that we are using Africa as 'a testing ground' is simply wrong and inaccurate...over the past two years we have dedicated unprecedented resources and investments across the continent including establishing teams of product, policy, and operations experts with local language and local context expertise,"...It described a multi-pronged approach to dealing with misinformation in Africa, including a new content review centre it plans to open in...Nairobi, that will employ approximately 100 people, mostly moderating content in Somali, Oromo, Swahili and Hausa...Most of the current controversy is around Facebook and Instagram but the hugely popular WhatsApp messaging service...is also accused of being a big vehicle for the spread of false news on the continent - it...is a leading news source for older citizens...

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Related companies: Archimedes Group Facebook Instagram (part of Facebook) Whatsapp (part of Facebook)