When a ‘good news’ Facebook story pops up, we tend to take it with a pinch of salt. The US-based social media platform (and holding company) has faced a fair amount of criticism for how it handles misinformation on its platform in recent years. This is especially true during election times — no matter the country.
Now that South Africans are getting ready to cast their municipal votes on 1 November 2021, policymakers and the general public are taking to platforms like Facebook to entice votes for their particular political party. This opens more than a few opportunities for false news and misinformation to make its way to millions of users.
Facebook SA is on the case
Facebook’s Nomonde Gongxeka- Seopa, the head of public policy in Southern Africa, believes the company will use its lessons learned from previous global elections “…to help ensure election integrity in the days leading up to polling day.”
The social network’s local integrity plan is threefold, according to a press release.
- It will detect and remove harmful content as outlined in their community guidelines in order to keep people safe;
- It has implemented policies that address some of the most harmful types of false information;
- It’ll be transparent about who is behind the political ads on the platform.
In addition to this, Facebook says that users can flag content (at this link) that they believe is untrue or that promotes false information during the local election. Even if the content doesn’t explicitly break community guidelines, the social network may still limit the spread of that post/information.
While the above is admirable on paper, the social platform has a dismal track record when it comes to limiting false information and the spread of propaganda on its platform. Perhaps take the above with a pinch of salt. Or just lower your expectations — that also works.