Facebook is Expanding Fact-Checking in India Ahead of the General Election

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Facebook has been making modifications and introducing new rules to its platform ahead of the upcoming general elections in India. Facebook Inc. is expanding its fact-checking network in India in order to curb the circulation of fake news and misinformation as the world’s largest democracy prepares for a general election that must be held in May, the US-based social media giant said on Monday.

“We are committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 General Election campaign season,” Manish Khanduri, Facebook India’s news partnership head, said in the statement.

The upcoming election will see an intense and close fought battle between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janta Party and its opposition Congress party and its regional allies.

Last week, Facebook revealed that it was introducing stricter rules for political ads in India.

Now, Facebook is looking forward to strengthening the fact-checking programme in order to verify the accuracy of stories and prevent misinformation from spreading.

Facebook has added five new partners, including the local media house India Today, to the fact-checkers network, taking the total number to seven, the statement said.

The programme has been expanded to cover more regional Indian languages, so now it will now cover English along with five other local languages, the statement added.

India is one of Facebook’s largest market and its messaging app WhatsApp has more than 200 million users in the country, chiefly because of the data revolution in the country after the advent of India.

Social media platforms in India have been subjected to push political agenda every now and then but above all, recently, the platforms have been used to circulate fake news and misinformation throughout user base which has often resulted in real-world violence.

Last year, WhatsApp had to resort to limiting its forward service to five people only after the app was criticized for acting as a catalyst for the circulation of fake news that turned itself into violent lynchings. The previous forward limit on the app was 20. Notably, WhatsApp has recently implemented the only ‘five forwards’ restriction globally.

Google, too, has introduced scores of workshops across the country to train journalists to verify the news.

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