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Facebook’s parent company launches tools to combat disinfo in French election

PARIS — Facebook’s parent company Meta Wednesday announced a series of initiatives on its platforms to fight disinformation ahead of the French presidential election, including a new way to flag fake news on its messaging service WhatsApp.

WhatsApp users will now be able to notify Facebook’s media partner Agence France-Presse (AFP) about false information, and the news agency will be able to reply with fact-checking.

The other initiatives include an awareness campaign about disinformation deployed on Instagram with media outlet Loopsider; another campaign with AFP on Facebook about what to do when facing fake news; and a media literacy program — the Poynter Institute’s MediaWise — for WhatsApp users in partnership with France 24 to help people learn to spot conspiracy theories, scams, hoaxes and false information.

“We also rely on technological tools to keep harmful content off our platforms in real time, and work with four independent fact checkers in France — AFP, Les Décodeurs du Monde, 20 Minutes and France 24 — to reduce the circulation of false information,” Meta France’s head of public affairs Anton Battesti wrote in a separate blog post.

Meta will also in the coming weeks open a “virtual election operations centre” that will gather the company’s experts on threats, and use data to monitor developments 24/7 and react in real time to misuses of its platforms.

Meta isn’t alone in planning ahead for the high-stakes election in April. Google is also working with traditional media to fight against disinformation. The U.S. tech giant and AFP announced in December they had formed a partnership, including on fact-checking.

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