Contextualising Facebook, WhatsApp use in business

By Staff reporter | 05 May 2019 at 17:30hrs
Social media
FACEBOOK and WhatsApp have become a part of the daily lives of many people the world over. Over two billion people are reported to be using Facebook while over a billion people are on WhatsApp worldwide.

In Zimbabwe, many people now use Facebook and WhatsApp for both communication and business.

Daily News reporter Pauline Hurungudo had a wide-ranging interview with a Facebook spokesperson to contextualise these social media platforms in the Zimbabwe set-up.

Q: Your public policy manager on content policy recently mentioned that sub-Saharan Africa, which also includes Zimbabwe, registers the lowest number of reports against violations on the platform. Is there need to perhaps educate or encourage people to report violations or might it be a case of lack of tech knowledge?
A: We want to make sure people can spot false news and know how to flag it. That's why we've rolled out educational tips on national and regional radio and in print media across Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

In Nigeria, WhatsApp also launched its ‘Share Facts, Not Rumours' campaign to help increase awareness about hoaxes.

Additionally, at the end of last year Facebook began a new Online Safety Programme for students in Nigerian secondary schools.

The 12-week workshop is designed to help teenagers understand the fundamentals of online safety and digital literacy, covering topics such as managing an online presence; social media and sharing; public Wi-Fi safety; building healthy relationships online; understanding password security and privacy settings; and identifying misinformation online.

We also regularly engage with civil society, NGOs and journalists across Africa to educate them on Facebook's Community Standards, including reporting.

This is just some of the important work that we do across the continent and are committed to doing more to boost digital literacy.

Q:There are so many parody accounts on the Zimbabwean Facebook landscape, what has Facebook been doing to date to rectify the matter?
A: Facebook is a community platform and we rely on the community to report what they think shouldn't be on the platform – our Community Standards make clear what is and is not allowed on the platform.

We also use signals to help detect content that shouldn't be on the platform. We have a single set of global policies - in writing them we have to take into account different cultural sensitivities and social norms, different ways people are using language and different trends around the world.
Our Community Standards cover a wide range of topics-everything from bullying and harassment, impersonation, spam and terrorism.

What we are focused on in writing these rules is the balance of giving people the room to express themselves and keeping the platform safe - and they are developed with three principles in mind: Safety, Voice, Equity.
Of course, while our policies are extremely important - they're only as good as the enforcement. We enforce our policies in two ways: reactively and proactively.

Reactive enforcement: We have around 15 000 reviewers based in 20 sites around the world - including a site here in Kenya.

Collectively, they are able to review content in 50+ languages - 24/7. They are a mix of full-time employees, contractors and vendor partners and we hire them based on language expertise, but also cultural understanding.

Proactive enforcement: We've made significant investments in AI that complement our community reports and mean we can go after more violating content.

Our global Community Standards Enforcement Report shows that our AI is extremely effective in certain areas, finding over 99 percent of graphic violence, nudity, fake accounts, spam, terrorist content before anyone reports it.

Hate speech is harder - but we're still making progress. We caught 52 percent of the hate speech we removed in Q3 - up from 38 percent in Q1.

Q: Can people report fake accounts, nudity or hate speech without facing victimisation?
A: When something gets reported to Facebook, we review it and remove anything that goes against the Facebook Community Standards.

We don't include any information about the person who filed the report when we reach out to the reported.

Q: There are a lot of fake accounts being used to dupe people. How can people verify friendly requests from fake accounts?
A: You should send friend requests to people you know in real life, like your friends, family, coworkers and classmates.

Your account should represent you, and only you should have access to your account. If someone gains access to your account or creates an account to pretend to be you or someone else, we want to help.

We also encourage you to let us know about accounts that represent fake or fictional people, pets, celebrities or organizations.

Q: Besides this, what other safety nets has Facebook placed to protect privacy and content?
A: We know we have a responsibility to fight abuse on our services. We've learnt lessons from elsewhere in the world, and that is why we're working hard to ensure we're doing all we can to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate across the platform. Over the last year we have made significant investments across the continent, this includes:

•The opening of a new Content Operations Centre in Nairobi;
•Continue to invest in local partnerships, engage with local civil society, NGOs, academics and policy makers;
•Rolling out programmes and print and radio campaigns to better inform users in how to stay safe online;
•Rolled out our Third-Party Fact-Checking programme across Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon.

We know there is more to do and we're committed to this.

Q: A lot of Facebook users are having to face emotional trauma after accounts of their deceased love ones continue to appear online reminding them about birthdays, how they met, etc. What can Facebook users do to get their deceased relatives' accounts removed?
A: Immediate family members and friends can request that the account be removed or memorialised. People can learn more about these options through our Help Centre.

Q: I understand there are deliberations on the establishment of a Facebook Oversight Board and how can Zimbabwe also be involved?
A: We organised one of our workshops in Nairobi, and invited representatives from across Africa, because we wanted to make sure that diverse perspectives from across Africa are incorporated in the design of the board.

Over two days we listened to our partners looking to incorporate a diverse range of perspectives from the region into the board's design process.

These insights will be critical in helping design a board that can serve our global community and uphold our values, while bringing independent judgment to hard cases.

Workshops have already taken place in Singapore, Delhi and Nairobi. Other workshops will follow this year in Berlin, New York, Mexico City, with more to come.

While the board can't include representatives from every country and culture, Africa will be represented on the board alongside other regions.

It will consist up to 40 global experts - though that number is one of the questions up for discussion - with experience in content, privacy, free expression, human rights, journalism, and safety.

We are very much at the beginning of this process - it has not been done before, and we are working hard to get it right - and we will continue to share updates with you as we go.

Q: I also heard your team is working on marketing and monetising the WhatsApp platform. What progress has been made so far and what is the outlook?
A: Below are two examples of how two different companies (one in Nigeria and one that is Pan-African) has been using WhatsApp for Business:

Lagos-based OgoLord International Limited is a business that sources and sells everything from smoked fish and cashew nuts to wood and charcoal.

OgoLord added the WhatsApp Business app to its communication system to help coordinate operations across its vast supply chain and better connect with customers across Africa and as far away as Vietnam, Spain, and the United States.

Absa is one of the largest banks in Africa, with interests in 12 different countries and 65 000 employees. Facebook Africa, Absa and Clickatell partnered to launch WhatsApp first Chat Banking partner in August 2018.

In its current Functionality there is Easy self-guided FAQ's, Transactional messaging to support customers, Commerce, Purchase prepaid electricity and airtime, "Send money" systems to facilitate multiple small payments.

Q: What is Facebook doing as social responsibility or to integrate youths in Africa particularly Zimbabwe?
A: We are invested in Africa, we are constantly connecting, listening and learning with communities on the ground.

The future of Africa is young, one of our key roles across the continent is supporting and investing in young and diverse creative talent. Examples of our work include:

We regularly host hackathons across Africa as part of our efforts designed to spark creativity in young people while pushing their coding capabilities.

For example, Facebook recently partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and AfricaTeenGeeks to organise this year's edition of Hackathon4justice in Lagos, Nigeria.

We also undertake university wide roadshows as part of our ongoing commitment and investment in growing the tech ecosystem, driving innovation and empowering start-ups and students with technical & business support. So far we have undertaken events and roadshows in universities across South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana

We also have Developer Circles - a community-driven initiative by Facebook that members join for free - allowing them to connect, share ideas, learn, and collaborate.

Each circle is led by a volunteer who arranges offline meet-ups and discussions, as well as manages their own dedicated Facebook Group where members can continue the conversation between meet-ups, share code and deepen their knowledge on topics like React and Bots in Messenger.

There are now approximately 30 Developer Circles across the continent, the most in any region globally, and with over 27 000 members in cities such as Johannesburg, Accra, Lagos, Kinshasa and Harare - The Harare Circle has over 1 400 members.

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