World News

Kenya election: Facebook takes out full-page ads over fake news

Posted August 3

Days away from Kenya's August 8 election, Facebook is stepping up its efforts to curb misinformation on its platform.

Facebook is taking its campaign to the real world by placing full-page ads in local newspapers and radio stations with its guidance for identifying disingenuous reporting.

The social media network has also activated a pinned post to the top of timelines in Kenya that directs users to the Facebook Help Center, with resources on how to spot false reports "such as checking the web address, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic."

The notification tool -- which launched Monday -- will be available for "a few days" in Swahili and English to the 7 million monthly Facebook users in the country.

"We take fighting fake news issues seriously, because people want to see accurate information on Facebook," Ebele Okobi, Facebook Africa's director of policy, said in a statement.

"We've developed a three-part strategy to stop the spread of misinformation: disrupting the economic incentives for the spammers who attempt to distribute false news, building new products and helping people better identify false news and report it," she said.

The newspaper ads come days after false news bulletins were mocked up to imitate reports from the BBC and CNN in an attempt to sway voters.

Alphonce Shiundu, Kenya editor of-Africa Check, a not-for-profit organization working to promote media accuracy across the continent, told CNN that the country has seen an increase in misinformation through social platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Related: Will Kenya's young people swing the vote?

He has urged voters to remain vigilant in this final stretch to election day.

"Politicians will still find a way to push for people to campaign for them via social media, and that's when we will see a spike in more fake news," Shiundu said.

The dissemination of false information on social media platforms has been a continuing battle for Facebook and others since the Brexit referendum in the UK and the US presidential race last year.

More than a third of the top 200 stories about the two US presidential candidates were from fake news sites during the two months before the election, according to NewsWhip -- a company that tracks social media content and helps newsrooms flag fake news stories that are going viral.

In the months after, Facebook was heavily criticized for not doing more to curb misinformation.

It has since implemented a global strategy -- most recently during the French election -- to fight fake news including providing more education tools for identifying false stories, partnering with newsrooms and running newspaper ads to alert voters locally.

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