Ahead of the 2019 South African national elections happening on 8th May, Facebook has highlighted programmes and products in an effort to reduce the spread of misinformation and to support civic engagement on its platform.

“We have listened closely to the concerns of South Africa’s political parties, civil society organisations, regulators, electoral commission and the public to anticipate challenges across our platforms during the elections,” said Facebook public policy lead at the SADC Region, Emilar Gandhi.

Facebook adds that it has a few integrity programmes which include:

Promoting Civil engagement – which will help in building informed and civil engagement in its online community and also assist with voter registration awareness in the country.

Journalist Training across South Africa – The organisation states that it’s held a number of workshops with journalists and media groups across the country with the aim of educating them on social media best practice.

Content policy roundtables – the aim was to create an in-depth two-way conversations, and provide clarity around Facebook’s content and standards and multi-pronged steps that can help monitor and address dangerous, hateful and inappropriate content across the country.

Fighting false news – this effort forms part of the broader strategy to fight fake news that includes extensive work to remove fake accounts, cut off incentives to the financially motivated actors that spread misinformation.

Other integrity programmes Facebook has done include, Proactive removal of impersonation accounts, boosting digital literacy and helping people spot fake false news, connecting with political parties about security and partnerships with South African NGOs and civil society.

“This is something we have been working hard on since 2018 and have made significant investments in helping Facebook to be a place where people feel safe, can access accurate information and make their voices heard in South Africa,” concluded Gandhi.

With Facebook having been used as a platform to influence other elections across the globe recently, it should be interesting to see if the company’s efforts and initiatives can ensure the integrity of SA’s upcoming national elections.