Agence France-Presse

With elections scheduled to be held in various African countries this year, Facebook has devised mechanisms to reduce the spread of fake news, the social media giant said on Wednesday.

African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal are scheduled to have elections this year.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria is scheduled to hold Presidential and National Assembly elections on Feb. 16 while governorship and state house of assembly elections come up on March 2.

In a statement released in Johannesburg, the American tech company said it had teamed up with local fact checkers including Kenya’s Pesa Check and Nigeria’s Dubawa, among others.

“We want to stop the spread of false news on our platforms.

“These independent groups help us assess the accuracy of news shared on Facebook.

“When they determine content is false, we reduce its distribution in the news feed so fewer people see it,’’ said Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager of Africa Elections.

Gyekye said they have boosted digital literacy to help people spot false news.

“We want to make sure people can spot false news and know how to flag it.

“That’s why we’ve rolled out educational tips on national and regional radio and in print media in many African countries,’’ he said.

In order to help prevent external interference, Facebook said it would not accept foreign election advertisements on Facebook in Nigeria.

Some African governments have complained that social media are used to spread fake news and instigate civil unrest.

Governments like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe had temporarily blocked the social media platform during elections.

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