By Ibiyemi Mathew
Meta, the parent company of social media networks Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has disclosed that it has introduced a verification process for anyone who wants to run a political ad on their platform.
The company revealed this at a Media roundtabe held in Lagos to highlight the steps Meta is taking to protect the integrity of the Nigeria elections taking place in 2023 and the efforts to combat the spread of misinformation and to make political advertising more transparent.
Commenting at the event, Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze said, “We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections. Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we have made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections. We continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we are preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats.”
Highlighting some of the steps the company has taken, Adaora said, “We have made political ads more transparent in Nigeria. Anybody who wants to run political ads in Nigeria must go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria.
“These ads are labelled with a disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them and stored them in our public Ads Library for seven years, so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent. We also offer controls so that people in Nigeria can choose not to see any of these political ads which run with a disclaimer.
“Our dedicated teams have engaged in training and conversations with civil society organisations, academia, political parties and government to inform them of our election integrity efforts,” she said.
Meta’s approach has been informed by conversations with human rights groups, NGOs, local civil society organisations, regional experts and local election authorities — to help ensure the safety of people using Meta’s family of apps, customise election strategies for Nigeria, maintain the integrity of its platforms and keep users safe.