Facebook India strengthens features to curb fake news

Facebook has come up with new features to curb hate speech and fake news as part of protecting citizens' rights ahead of the 2019 elections. 

Interacting with media personnel, Public Policy Managers at Facebook Sheen Handoo and Varun Reddy said that Facebook India is onboarding more third party factcheckers to verify the authenticity of content.

"We don't want attacks on pubic figures as well as attacks by public figures, which propogate hate speech on Facebook," they said.

The social media platform, which has a network of 2.23 billion users across the globe, has partnered with platforms like Boom Live to verify news, photos and videos.

Facebook’s Global Community Standards sets a framework for the kind of content that is to be shared on the platform.

“We have an algorithm that will figure out from the forwarded message whether the person is for or against hate speech based on the caption appended to it," said Handoo. Facebook stressed that direct hate speech messages would be taken down from the platform.

The platform will also curb content focusing on nudity, dangerous organisations, bullying and harassment, self-harm, sexual violence and exploitation, criminal activity, violence and graphic content as per its updated guidelines.

In India, Facebook supports 16 languages but it will be difficult for the the social media platform to figure out the nuances of hate speech with a wider use of vernacular languages. 

"The India playbook will involve a lot of lessons from political campaigns in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In Myanmar earlier this year, a United Nations investigator said that Facebook was used to incite violence and hatred against a Muslim minority group," said Reddy.

Even though its sets standards for Facebook and Instagram, the Community Standards do not cover WhatsApp. In India, WhatsApp has been used to spread fake news and incite violence.

The company's Community Standards have classified “Dangerous Organisations” as a category and includes terrorist organisations, organised criminal activity, cartels or organisations using violence to further political hate.

To strengthen its India capabilities, Facebook also plans to hire more vernacular language experts so as to better understand fake news and hate speech.

The public policy managers also made it clear that the company is ready to abide by the laws of the country. “If the government sends a valid request that is based on someone in an authoritative position with a legal standing, it is then looked into,” they said.

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Facebook India strengthens features to curb fake news

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