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SMW Lagos: Facebook, Google urge usage of platforms to debunk fake news


Google representative Taiwo Kola-Ogunkolade (left); Head of Investigation, Premium Times, Nicholas Ibekwe; Facebook representative Adaora Ikenze; Head of operations, Guardian Digital, Lolade Nwanze

Facebook and Google on Monday urged users to access tools on its platforms to debunk false news and misinformation.

The tech companies gave the charge at a session tagged ‘Gatekeeping in the era of fake news, the impact of social media during election’ hosted by The Guardian during the Social Media Week at Victoria Island, Lagos. The session was moderated by the head of operations, Guardian Digital, Lolade Nwanze.

Google representative, Taiwo Kola Ogunlade said the spread of falsehood on social media platforms could be lessened when users understand the motive behind persistent claims by other users.

Ogunlade stated that every post on social media has a purpose, but more responsibility is on the user to “understand the reason could be political, monetary, momentary need to be viral.”

He explained that although sanitising falsehood off the internet could be challenging, but easier when users verify trending text posts, pictures and visuals with Google tools, especially during the election period.

“The complexity is that we can’t decide what’s true and people have the right to believe what is true and false. We use relevance, trustworthy and authority with different algorithms to fact check,” Ogunlade said.

He called for collaborative efforts from Nigerian media houses and more social media education for users to discourage misinformation from political elements.

Facebook representative, Adaora Ikenze explained that the role the platform is to create a community that allows people to engage and not to misinform people.

Ikenze stated that the wide reach of the platform makes it challenging to totally stop users from posting contents. She, however, noted that some posts are instantly verified when reported.

She explained that “We have a procedure for such content either doted or removed. A specific deliberate process. Over 25 million, 3 million content a day. We have content quality reviewers. People have to report content to us.”

“We have the highest level of misinformation on our platform but people don’t report.”

She noted that Facebook had placed an embargo on the placement of political adverts by foreign sponsors to restrict foreign influence in the 2019 elections through the platform.

Head of Investigation at Premium Times, Nicholas Ibekwe, said disinformation is as old as man but there’s a rise in the spread.

“It (social media) has added impact to the spread of fake news. Turnaround time is important. Fact check takes time.”

Nicholas stated that news literacy and enlightenment to social media users would reduce spread of falsehood.

He urged social media users to “Check if it (information) is taken by a credible newspaper” before posting and sharing with other users.

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