Who determines what is true or false on social media?

in partnership

Good morning. “Quibi cannot simply wind down its business, send its investors hundreds of millions of dollars and sell its stolen technology to a third party…”Eko confirmed that it will continue its lawsuit against a winded down Quibi.

In today’s edition:

-The BackEnd
-Digital Taxes


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We are aware that Facebook’s automated systems
were incorrectly flagging content in support of #EndSARS, and for this we are deeply sorry. This issue has since been resolved, and we apologize for letting
down our community in such a time of need.”
A Facebook Company Spokesperson

Facebook often gets short shrift….I would know.

In yesterday’s newsletter, I inferred that Facebook was allowing the Nigerian Army to dictate the truth of what was going on in Nigeria.

Mea Culpa.

The truth is a little more tame.

In an email to TechCabal, Facebook clarified that its autonomous systems flagged the #EndSARS posts posted on its platform yesterday.

The company says it has now corrected this error. It will mean that Facebook could look a little
different and you will now begin to see some of the information to help you know what’s going on in Nigeria.

My takeaway: content moderation is tricky but leaps in logic are even less cool.


How does Facebook verify information at a time when fake news is a global problem?

This is not to say that fake news and misinformation are new problems. Instead, the reason we now talk about fake news so often is that social media platforms help misinformation travel faster.

For social media companies, it means that they have a responsibility to ensure that their platforms do not become spaces for misinformation.

It’s a tougher job than it sounds and this week, The BackEnd lets us look under the hood of the vehicle that is fact-checking.

The BackEnd uses a recent
example to help us understand the sometimes wonky world of fact-checking.

  • On Wednesday, Nigerian internet users had their posts on police brutality flagged as fake news
  • The article Instagram provided to support the fact-check was written on October 19, a day before protesters were shot in Lekki
  • The fact-check article focused on analysing a CNN news chyron about “two deadly viruses killing Nigerians.”
  • Apparently, some people (in the US) inferred there was an outbreak of SARS – the influenza virus – in Nigeria based on the CNN chyron.

The Fact Checkers. There’s one big reason you should read this: it answers the important question of who platforms rely on to determine what is verified or false.


We started the week with news that South Africa’s broadcasting regulator is thinking about licences for streaming services like Netflix.

South Africa’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is making that conversation broader, detailing plans for digital taxes on digital economic activities.

What the PBO said: “The global discourses to rethink the allocation of taxation rights has intensified. South Africa taxes consumption through VAT, but not income of digital economic activities.

Who is saying “I called it! Deloitte. In this article they published in August, they predicted that South Africa would be talking about digital taxes really soon.

What other African countries are talking about digital taxes? Kenya and Nigeria.


Big changes are coming to Whatsapp business. Facebook will roll out three new additions to its instant messaging app as it targets the 50 million businesses that use the app.

In-chat shopping: while millions of people already use Whatsapp for business to speak to customers, in-chat shopping takes things up a notch.
Business owners will now be able to sell products inside Whatsapp via Facebook shops, an online store Facebook launched in May.

Outside Facebook Shop, Facebook will make it possible for merchants to add “buy” buttons in other places that will take shoppers to WhatsApp chats to complete the purchase.

Facebook Hosting Service: According to Techcrunch, “the idea here appears that it is specifically aimed at selling hosting services
to the kind of SMBs who already use Facebook and WhatsApp messaging, who either already use hosting services for their online assets, whether that be their online stores or other things, or are finding themselves now needing to for the first time, now that business is all about being “online.”

Pricing: Whatsapp for business has been largely free since it launched. But with a raft of new features, it will now be a paid service with different pricing levels.

What isn’t yet clear is how much the service will cost and what each pricing level will provide.

Want to understand what these new features will mean for small businesses? Go deeper here.


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