Facebook parent company Meta has announced it will be implementing a ‘fact checking’ service in its messaging platform WhatsApp, in order to counter so-called ‘fake news’ during the upcoming French presidential election.
Digital messaging service WhatsApp is launching a new ‘fact checking’ service implemented in France, according to an announcement made by the service’s parent company, Meta.
The move is part of the company’s efforts to tackle so-called ‘fake news’ during the upcoming French presidential election, with the Silicon Valley giant also announcing new anti-disinfo measures for its Instagram and Facebook platforms.
According to a post on the company’s French-language website, a service allowing WhatsApp users to submit video, audio, and other content to so-called ‘fact checkers’ to be verified was launched on Thursday.
The service is being operated by Agence France-Presse, which Meta bills as the company’s ‘fact-checking partner’.
“This new, unprecedented service in France – which comes in addition to the reporting tools available on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger – marks an important step in the fight against false information by allowing all users of the WhatsApp application in France to easily access the information verification work of a media recognized for its expertise in this field,” a statement reads.
Facebook has also promised that it will make “significant efforts to combat the dissemination of false information” on its platforms, saying that it will “remove content” that violates the company’s “Community Standards”,
In particular, the company claims that it will target “the most serious categories of false information, including content that is intended to limit voter turnout or likely to lead to imminent violence or physical harm”.
Also being set up as part of ramped-up anti-disinformation measures are campaigns aimed at increasing the “media literacy” of the general population, which will be rolled out on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
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The company’s CEO — tech multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg — has openly admitted that the company actively interfered in political speech in the run-up to Ireland’s seminal referendum on abortion in 2018, with the company blocking pro-life ads on the platform ahead of the public vote.
Politicians in India have also accused the Facebook platform of meddling in the country’s electoral democracy, with the social media giant reportedly giving “favourable treatment on election-related issues” to certain political groups.
Meanwhile, privacy changes made to the WhatsApp app have led to serious information privacy concerns from both users as well as government officials, with Politico reporting that the EU is now threatening Meta with sanctions over how the messaging app gathers user data.
“We are not in a dialogue around a simple cup of tea; we are asking them to address real concerns,” the publication reports European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders as saying regarding the controversy.
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