Facebook says it will fight fake news on its platform by using African languages such as Swahili, Senegal, Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho, Southern Ndebele, Yoruba and Igbo languages.
Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, said in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos, that the two languages were in addition to the Hausa language, already supported by the platform.
Boakye said that Facebook was collaborating with Africa Check to add new local language support for several African languages as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme.
He said that the programme would help to assess the accuracy of news on Facebook and reduce the spread of misinformation.
According to him, the programme was launched in 2018 across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which included South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon.
“Facebook has partnered with Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, to expand its local language coverage across Nigeria (Yoruba and Igbo), adding to Hausa which was already supported.
“We have also expanded our local language coverage across Kenya (Swahili), Senegal (Wolof), as well as South Africa (Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele).
“We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities.
“Our third-party fact-checking programme is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook.
“We know there is still more to do, and we are committed to this,” Boakye said.
The Executive Director, Africa Check, Noko Makgato said that the organisation was delighted to be expanding the arsenal of the languages is covered in its work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme.
Makgato said that in countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages was vital.
“Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, but it also means we will be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information,” he said.