afaqs! news bureau

Meta takes on misinformation ahead of general elections

Using genAI, third-party fact-checker expansion, activating Elections Operations Center, and more are on the agenda.

Ahead of India's 18th general elections, Meta, the parent company of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads, aims to address misinformation, prevent voter interference, and enhance transparency and accountability on its platforms to promote free and fair elections.

To this end, the company has allocated around 40,000 staff globally to safety and security efforts. Since 2016, Meta has invested over $20 billion in teams and technology for this purpose.

This includes 15,000 content reviewers who assess content on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads in over 70 languages, including 20 Indian languages. With several important elections approaching this year, Meta has developed a comprehensive approach for its platforms.

Recently, Meta adopted new technologies like genAI. It will leverage these resources in the lead-up to the elections. Additionally, for all major elections, it will activate an India-specific Elections Operations Center. This will gather experts from various departments to identify potential threats and implement specific mitigations in real time across their apps and technologies.

Meta is in close engagement with the Election Commission of India through its membership in the Voluntary Code of Ethics since 2019. This provides the Commission with a high-priority channel to report unlawful content to the company.

Following guidance from local partners, this will encompass false claims regarding individuals of one religion engaging in physical harm or harassment against individuals or groups of a different religion.

Before the elections, Meta will enhance accessibility for its fact-checking partners throughout India to identify and assess election-related content promptly, acknowledging the significance of rapid response during breaking news events.

The company's network of independent fact-checkers is tasked with reviewing and rating AI-generated content as well. These fact-checking partners are trained in visual verification techniques, including reverse image searching and analysing image metadata to determine the time and location of the photo or video.

Since February 2024, Meta has conducted an integrated 8-week safety campaign called Know What’s Real. This initiative aims to educate users on identifying and addressing misinformation on WhatsApp and Instagram. It promotes digital best practices, highlights available safety tools, and encourages users to verify suspicious or inaccurate information by utilising WhatsApp tiplines.

WhatsApp will maintain restrictions on forwarding messages, as announced in 2023. Once a message has been forwarded once, it can only be forwarded to one group at a time, compared to the previous limit of five. When this feature was introduced for highly forwarded messages in 2020, it resulted in a reduction of such messages sent on WhatsApp globally by over 70%.

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