Some members of the international fact-checking community welcomed the Facebook announcements but also raised questions about technical issues and transparency.
The move underscores how the world’s largest social network is trying to combat misinformation as it faces allegations of political bias, which Facebook has repeatedly denied.
The programme will be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso in partnership with AFP; in Uganda and Tanzania with Pesa Check and AFP; in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast with France 24 and AFP, in Guinea with France 24, and Ghana in partnership with Nigerian fact-checking platform Dubawa.
“The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows first-hand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme,” said Kojo Boakye, Facebook head of public policy, Africa.”
Facebook said that it will continue to exempt politiciansfrom its third-party fact-checking proc ess because their speech is considered newsworthy content. But not everyone is a fan of this rule, including some of Facebook’s former employees.
“AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation,” said AFP Global News Director Phil Chetwynd.
AFP has fact-checkers in nearly 30 countries, working in nine languages.
Eric Mugendi, managing director of Pesa Check, which will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English, said:
“Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. They shape our perceptions of the world.
Other than English and Swahili, the program is available in Afrikaans, Setswana, Sotho, Zulu, Ndebele, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Wolof.
The Third Party Fact-Checking Program represents a lot of daily work inside a fact-checking newsroom
and, until today, has been covered by a very strict contract between Facebook and each one of its partners (some non-disclosure agreements keep them from being public about the details).
Third Party Fact-Checking Program has always been the idea of giving people more information to help them make better choices. The three-step process relies on feedback from users to flag potentially fake photos and articles to fact-checkers for review and verification. Whilst misinformation is a global phenomenon, each country has its own individual difficulties in tackling misinformation.