Facebook has announced that it has start pulling down fake pages of INEC from its platform ahead the 2019 general elections. It also revealed plans to assist Nigeria’s electoral commission by way of expanding voter education and engaging citizens meaningfully to achieve peaceful general elections in 2019.
According to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), the offer was made known when Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for Africa and her team paid a courtesy visit to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
Speaking with INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Facebook noted that it has a membership base of 2.1 billion worldwide and 80 million from Nigeria.
It added that, “people care very deeply about how they are governed, about who governs them and other political issues. Knowing that people come to the platform to talk about what they care about, we have developed a politics and government programme essentially to understand how our platform is being used, not just during elections, but also to help governments engage with their citizens and also to see what the risks related to our platform in elections are and what opportunities and programmes can be put in place to address the risks.”
Okobi disclosed that the company was open to ideas on how best it could improve its services and the electoral processes in Africa, particularly in Nigeria.
Responding, the INEC boss, Yakubu told the team that organising and conducting elections was a huge responsibility for the commission and comes with enormous risks.
“A good election, I have always said, is a recipe for peace and a poorly conducted election could lead to violence and civil war. And part of it is the perception some people create on the social media,” he said.
He acknowledged the large following the electoral body enjoys on Facebook, which he said is the largest among election management bodies in Africa, and underscored its potentials for engaging citizens, disseminating information and dispelling fake news for peaceful elections.
While acknowledging that Facebook has become one of the veritable means of interacting with the public, Yakubu said, “I think more people now get their news from the social media than the traditional media”.
The INEC chairman thanked Facebook for pulling down fake pages of the commission from its platform just as it commended, “the social media giant” for also putting mechanisms for checking hate speech and fake news in place.
He said the commission looked forward to working with Facebook in ensuring that the voting population gets the best to help them make informed choices at the polls.