How Meta plans to protect the integrity of Nigeria’s 2023 elections

Tomiwo Ojo
How Meta is preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp has announced the steps it is taking to protect the integrity of the 2023 elections in Nigeria.

In February next year, millions of Nigerians are expected to elect their preferred candidates into all tiers of political offices in the country during the 2023 elections. Meta has now disclosed that it will combat the spread of misinformation and make political advertising more transparent. 

These efforts will continue in the lead-up to, during, and after voting and builds on Meta’s experience and learnings from supporting elections across Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

How Meta is preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections

Meta’s approach to the 2023 elections has been informed by conversations with human rights groups, NGOs, local civil society organisations, regional experts and local election authorities – to help ensure the safety of people using Meta’s family of apps, customise election strategies for Nigeria, maintain the integrity of its platforms and keep users safe. 

Read also: Can technology make Nigeria’s 2023 elections more credible?

Meta disclosed this during a media roundtable focused on how the company is preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections, which held in Lagos, Nigeria on Wednesday, December 7 2022. Commenting at the event, Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze said,

“We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections.

Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze

Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections, she explained.

We continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we’re preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats,” Adaora Ikenze continued.

How Meta is preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections
L-R: Ebuka Ogbodo, Public Policy Manager, Anglophone West Africa, Meta; Oluwasola
Obagbemi, Corporate Communications Manager, Anglophone West Africa, Meta and Adaora Ikenze,
Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, Meta during a media roundtable focused on how
Meta is preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections, which held in Lagos, Nigeria on Wednesday December
7, 2022.
Some of  the steps Meta is taking to prepare for the 2023 elections in Nigeria
A dedicated cross-functional team spread across the world as well as locally focused on the 2023 elections in Nigeria

This includes a number of people from Nigeria and people who have spent significant amounts of time in the country because Meta recognises that local understanding is critical. The team also includes individuals with global expertise in misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation. These teams are working hard to prevent any abuse of services before, during and after Nigeria’s 2023 general elections. Locally, Meta also has staff who reside in Nigeria and work in public policy, & public policy programmes and communications.

Read also: Though impressive, Peter Obi’s plans for the Nigerian tech space lack depth

Keeping people safe.

Since 2016 Meta has quadrupled the size of the global teams working on safety and security to about 40,000 people and has invested more than $16 billion in teams and technology in this area. This also includes over 15,000 content reviewers, who are located across the globe, at every major timezone. Collectively, these reviewers are able to review content in more than 70 languages- including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa ahead of the 2023 elections.

Meta is taking measures ahead of the 2023 elections in Nigeria
Addressing virality.

On WhatsApp, bulk or automated messaging is a violation of Meta’s terms of service. The company states:

“If we find instances of people misusing the service we remove those accounts. We continue to constrain forwarding and earlier in 2022 we announced that any message that has been forwarded once, will now only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which was the previous limit.”

“When we introduced the same feature for highly forwarded messages, it reduced the number of these messages sent on WhatsApp by over 70%. We also label ‘forwarded’ and ‘highly forwarded’ messages to highlight when something has been shared multiple times. We’ve introduced forward limits to Messenger too, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time.” 

Read also: How to check your name on INEC Voters Register online ahead of 2023 elections

Taking aggressive steps to fight the spread of misinformation on Meta’s services in Nigeria

Meta knows it’s important for people to see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram. The platform will remove all misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm and work with fact-checking partners in Nigeria  – AFP, Africa Check and Dubawa – to review and rate potentially false content on all platforms, label it, and place it lower in feeds, so fewer people see it.

To further educate Nigerians on how to spot false news and the actions to take, Meta is partnering with local radio stations to create ‘#NoFalseNews’ radio dramas in English and Pidgin, executing a WhatsApp awareness campaign #YouSaid in Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Pidgin to educate users to verify the information before sharing and running online ads on Facebook and radio in Yoruba, Pidgin, Hausa and Igbo to educate people on how to spot false information.

Made political ads more transparent in Nigeria ahead of the 2023 elections

Anybody who wants to run political ads in Nigeria must go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria. These ads are labelled with a disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them and stored them in Meta’s public Ads Library for seven years so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent. Meta also offers controls so that people in Nigeria can choose not to see any of these political ads which run with a disclaimer. 

Promoting civic engagement

Helping to build informed and civically engaged communities is central to Meta’s work around the 2023 elections.  The dedicated teams have engaged in training and conversations with civil society organisations, academia, political parties and government to inform them of Meta’s election integrity efforts.

Meta is also taking measures to outline its Community Standards that publicly explain what is and isn’t allowed on the platforms to prioritise integrity during and after elections.

Read also: 2023 elections: the BVAS question and why Nigeria can’t afford to lose in the age of tech

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