Facebook to promote election integrity ahead of Tanzania’s October polls


Tanzania's General Election is a fortnight away, Facebook has announced its commitment to protect the integrity of democracy on its platforms during the Tanzanian elections.

The company has launched programmes and products to help reduce the spread of misinformation, curb election interference and to support civic engagement on its platforms.

Commenting on the company's efforts, Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook's head of public policy for East and Horn of Africa said they are excited with their work in Tanzania.

"As a company we have made significant investments in helping Facebook be a place where people feel safe, can access accurate information and make their voices heard. We are confident that our election integrity work in Tanzania will help reduce the spread of misinformation, curb election interference and promote civic engagement," she said.

Civic engagement

She said that as part of FaceBook's efforts to build informed and civically engaged communities, they will launch an Election's Day Reminder at the top of their News Feed on Facebook and Instagram in the lead up to the elections.

"The Election's Day reminder will provide Tanzanians with official voting information and allow them to share that they voted through a post or a picture on their profiles. To help people share the voting excitement while increasing awareness of the Elections, Facebook will also launch Facebook and Instagram Election stories stickers designed by Othman Mashaushi, a young Tanzanian artist," she said.

Misinformation

According to the official combating misinformation and false news during elections is quite key on their agenda.

"We are aware of the harmful effects of misinformation particularly around elections, that is why Facebook partnered with Pesa Check an independent fact-checking organization in Tanzania to review and rate the accuracy of content shared on Facebook and Instagram," Ms Ndegwa said.

She added: When content is found to be false, Facebook reduces its distribution in News Feed so fewer people see it, and also show related articles from fact-checkers featuring factual information as to why a story is deemed false for more contexts, whilst notifying users if a story they share is rated as false.

In another development, Facebook has launched a media literacy campaign in Tanzania that aims to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Political advertising

According to Facebook political discussion and debate should be transparent to every voter which is why the company introduced tools that provide more information about political adverts on Facebook and Instagram.

"Earlier this year Facebook made these political ads transparency tools mandatory in Tanzania and as a result, anybody who wants to run political ads in Tanzania must now go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Tanzania. "

She added: Facebook then runs additional checks to ensure compliance with its policies. Every political ad in Tanzania is also labeled with a "paid by" disclaimer, so that people can see who paid for them. All political ads that run in Tanzania are put in the FacebookAds library so that people can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent.

This article was published by The Citizen.

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