Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of social media applications, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said extra measures have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of the Nigerian Public and the integrity of the 2023 electoral process during the polls.
At its Africa Headquarters on Victoria Island Lagos, Tuesday, Meta, during its 2-day engagement with Civil Society Organisations in the country, disclosed that unlike in the previous elections, it now has physical presence of humans and technical facilities to be deployed to monitor the elections in the country and help prevent the spread of harmful activities from peddlers of falsehoods and injurious contents that are capable of instigating violence and endangering lives.
Part of the facilities being deployed, Ebuka Ogbodo, Public Policy Manager for Anglophone, West Africa, Meta, said is the company’s physical operational office now located on 24, Global Road, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
According to him, the multi-billion-naira investment houses most of highly skilled engineers, who are currently responsible for it’s technical works across the world.
He said these experts are available and would be fully engaged on the efforts to sanitize the platforms during the polls.
“Besides the United States of America, Lagos is the only location where we have this kind of physical presence and robust technical facilities and expertises to be leveraged on during the election,” Ogbodo, who spoke on the topic “Meta’s Election Integrity Efforts,” told a large audience listening with rapt attention in their highly security fortified office.
His positions were buttressed by the duos of Shane Fitzgerald, the Policy Manager, Organic Content, Meta and Tom Bonsundy-O’Bryan, Product Policy Manager, Misinformation, Meta, who explained that the new policy are embedded in their upgraded Community Standards, Mis/Dis Information Campaigns, and other general campaigns against suicidal, bullying and hateful contents that could harm or wrongly sway the public during the election.
Fitzgerald, for instance, admitted that though there are still loopholes that are still being studied and worked on, “we (Meta) now have a robust Community and Safety Standards that prevents direct and indirect Hate Speeches, Mis/Dis information, and or general harmful contents, whether it’s visual or video.”
He said it is against his company’s updates Community Safety Standard to post any content that can not be verified to be true, operational, and explicable.
He said any account, page, or ads found to violate the policy are being and still going to be flagged down with immediate effect.
According to him, the Community Safety Standards have three goals, reduce the spread, prevent the spread and or slow it down, in addition to sensitising the intended or accidental receivers.
He said the policy was developed in collaborations with Legal experts, security engineers, lawmakers, Human Rights Groups, and other civil society organisations.
“We don’t allow voter’s interference on our platforms. We do not allow anyone to misrepresent the conditions for voting and qualifications for it. Neither are we going to allow coordinated manipulation of the election,” he added
On his part, Bonsundy-O’Bryan stressed that his company currently has a total of 2.9billion monthly active users combined Facebook and Instagram application, who are scattered across over 80 countries of the world, and in an attempt to prevent any manipulation, it has established a robust partnership network with key stakeholders.
He said, “Meta worms with more than 90 Fact-Checking Organisations in the world, three of which are reputable entities in Nigeria – AFP, Africa Check,and Dubawa. Our contents are translated in more than 60 international languages, including Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Pigin English. The essence is to identify and review rates of viral Mis/Dis Information being peddled on our platforms.”
In her presentation, titled “Safety and Security on WhatsApp,” Helen Charles, WhatsApp Public Policy Director Meta, said WhatsApp is not social media platform but ” a private messaging app, with more than 2bilkion active users in 80 countries of the world.
“WhatsApp is simply designed with End-to-end encryption to guarantee safety of the users,” she added.
While explaining that her company does not have access to the messages being share by the users, she, however admonished the users to comply with the two-step verification, or sent their privacy in a way that no one can add them to any group without authorisation.
She said on other possible breach, users should leverage the Block and Report bottom to prevent invasion.
“Don’t forget, 8million accounts are being banned on WhatsApp every month for one or all of the above infractions. 37% of these accounts are caught at the registration point,” she added.