Facebook extends fact-checking program to 10 new African states

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter has apologized after “inadvertently” using phone numbers and email addresses for advertising even though the personal data was provided for account security. Twitter users’ phone numbers and email addresses – submitted to allow for account authentication – were matched with advertisers’ own data to enable targeted ads. “When you provided an email address or phone number for safety or security purposes this data may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes,” Twitter said in an online post. “This was an error and we apologize.”


None of the user data was shared with partners outside the company, and it was unclear how many people were affected, the San Francisco-based company said. The issue was fixed in mid-September, Twitter said. “We’re very sorry this happened and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again,” Twitter said. Privacy and internet data are hot political topics worldwide, with tech giants such as Twitter and Facebook in the crosshairs of regulators.


Fact-checking program
In another development, Facebook has announced the expansion of its third-party fact-checking program to 10 new African countries in partnership with Agence France-Presse and other media. The program will be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso in partnership with AFP; in Uganda and Tanzania with Pesa Check and AFP; in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast with France 24 and AFP and in Guinea and Ghana in partnership with Nigerian fact-checking platform Dubawa.


“The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows first-hand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this program,” said Kojo Boakye, Facebook head of public policy, Africa. “Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue.


“We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programs we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook.” “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation,” said AFP Global News Director Phil Chetwynd.


AFP has fact-checkers in nearly 30 countries, working in nine languages. Eric Mugendi, managing director of Pesa Check, which will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English, said: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news … They shape our perceptions of the world. “This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could cause real-world harm.”


Booming business version
Meanwhile, Facebook said Tuesday its Portal smart screens would be incorporated in its Workplace social network for businesses, which has grown to more than three million paid users. Workplace paid users grew by more than 50 percent in the past eight months, the company said as it kicked off its second annual Flow conference at a hotel in the Silicon Valley city of Menlo Park.


The Workplace platform was launched three years ago as a separate, private social network tailored for companies with tools for productivity and collaboration on the job. Workplace rivals includes services fielded by Slack, Salesforce and Microsoft, which aim to foster better collaboration and eliminate dependence on overloaded email inboxes.


Workplace is separate from Facebook’s main social network and is intended as a platform to connect everyone in a company, from counter or warehouse workers to chief executives, according to executives. Workplace claimed that a differentiator from its competitors is that it connects all employees in businesses no matter their roles, even if their only computing device is a smartphone. An array of new features unveiled by Workplace at the gathering were tailored to trends of employees collaborating and coordinating using video and mobile devices.
A new “Workplace on Portal” app enticed employees to use the Facebook smart screens to get jobs done, while automatic video captioning capabilities were added and video quality heightened. “The future of work is going to be about breaking down barriers-geographic, departmental, linguistic and more,” Workplace said in a release. “This means we need technology that can connect everyone, wherever they are.” Facebook last month unveiled second-generation Portal smart screens, touting them as a way to stay connected to loved ones at the leading social network.
The new app was putting the internet-linked smart screens and their handy features to work. “We’re making it easier for these employees to do great work by helping them to connect to their organizations through mobile in a secure way,” said Workplace vice president Karandeep Anand. “We’re also excited to offer rich video features that enable all employees to be more connected and collaborative.” Features added to enhance the business social network included tools for learning, surveys, setting goals, and showing appreciation to co-workers.- Agencies