Fights against fake news on social media platforms taken a notch high by Tech firms

Twitter has also joined in the fight against fake news by providing new guidelines for Twitter users to be able to flag and counter fake information.

Photo/ Courtesy

In Brief

Tech giants step up and take the war on fake news a notch higher

– The Communications Authority of Kenya and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission have co-authored rules to help combat the distribution of such information with an Sh1 million fine or five-year jail term for offenders.

– Twitter has also joined in the fight against fake news by providing new guidelines for Twitter users to be able to flag and counter fake information.

As more and more people look to social media for news and information, manufacturing of falsehoods disguised as news material has become a core part of media consumption. This approach ends up causing a lot of mayhem and unrest amongst the users and on worst-case scenarios, it leads to deaths.

A perfect incidence of false news in Kenya involves the facts on COVID-19 Virus. Since the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus, there has been spread of a lot of false news about the virus which has led to racial profiling of the Asian community with videos doing rounds of some being attacked.

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However, The Communications Authority of Kenya and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission have co-authored rules to help combat the distribution of such information with an Sh1 million fine or five-year jail term for offenders, global social media companies are joining in the process to stem the circulation of fake news on their sites.

A study by Portland and GeoPoll in 2017 about Kenya’s consumption of news found that at least half of those in the study relied on social media for their news. In relation to the upcoming polls, it revealed that 90 per cent of Kenyans had heard or seen false stories related to the elections.

In the survey, a cross-section of the population including official groups, friends, and families told researchers they had all used social media to spread the misinformation. Government agencies have themselves been exposed for sharing fake news as it has popularly come to be known.

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Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube, Snapchat have in recent times all come under increasing pressure to stop the spread of false information.

And the pressure seems to be bearing fruit with giants Facebook, Google and Twitter recently announcing they were entering into a collaboration with third-party fact-checking organizations like Africa-check to identify stories that fail to hold up to scrutiny and warn users when they try to post or share these stories.

Facebook, has come under severe pressure for driving fake news on its platform ahead of the key presidential elections. But Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been on record saying that it was not up to social media sites like his to determine what amounts to an abuse of social media. He called for more regulation of harmful online content by authorities.

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The same claims were made in Kenya’s own presidential elections in which Cambridge Analytica, the same data analysis firm accused around the world of using data gathered from Facebook users to spread fake news, psychological manipulation and entrapment techniques through social media to influence especially young voters. It was the same group used in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum.

Facebook has launched new policies for political advertising globally, requiring political ads to display who paid for them, and consequently keeping a copy of the ad in a publicly-searchable database for seven years.

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Facebook said it will not include sponsored political posts by social media stars in its database.

Twitter has also joined in the fight against fake news by providing new guidelines for Twitter users to be able to flag and counter fake information.

Last year, it announced plans seek input from around the globe on how it will address synthetic and manipulated media.

 


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