User safety super important, using AI to combat misinformation, says Meta India head

Meta India head Sandhya Devanathan said the platform was prioritising user safety and that it was using AI to fight misinformation

September 06, 2023 08:46 am | Updated 08:46 am IST - NEW DELHI

Meta will continue with its election integrity efforts in India [File]

Meta will continue with its election integrity efforts in India [File] | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Meta, the parent company for popular apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, considers user safety as "super important" and is using AI in a big way to combat misinformation, the social media giant's India head Sandhya Devanathan has said.

Meta will continue with its election integrity efforts, as India heads for Lok Sabha elections next year, she told PTI.

Devanathan, who is the Vice President of Meta in India, said user safety is an area where the company has invested "a lot".

Outlining strategies adopted by Meta to crack down on misinformation and hateful speech on its platform, Devanathan said one of the ways is through the use of technology.

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"So AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been a big tool that has been our friend in combating a lot of misinformation and preventing harm on our platforms. Almost 85 per cent of content that we can classify as harmful is removed by AI before it even hits a human being to moderate," she said, adding that this marks the use of technology for good.

She added: "We have 3.88 billion monthly activities. So AI has been a huge tool here".

In India specifically, Meta has content moderators in over 20 languages, actively looking to see what they can do to make sure that harmful content doesn't stay up on its platforms.

"We have partnerships with 11 fact checkers across multiple languages. It is the largest partnership we have for Meta globally, where we have third-party fact checkers, fact checking on the platform," she said.

Meta has also prioritised education and user awareness.

"... Informing people of the choices they have, the privacy settings they can keep... but equally how to spot misinformation on our site... So, that's an area you will see us continue to invest in," Devanathan said.

India is among Meta's largest user bases globally - 400 million users of Facebook were here at the last count and those numbers have grown since.

On Meta's election integrity efforts, she said, "We've seen around 200 elections so far where we've made sure that on our platform, those elections go off smoothly."

Meta's efforts will certainly continue for Indian elections, as well, she asserted.

"But I go back to the work that we're doing on fact-checking, the work that we're doing on education and helping people spot misinformation. So apart from elections also, I think this should be something all round and continuing," she said.

With booming smartphone sales and the availability of cheap data supercharging growth for digital platforms, India is one of the biggest markets for social media companies such as Meta, Google, and X (formerly Twitter).

But social media companies have drawn flak globally and in India over issues of user harm and the circulation of misinformation, hate speech, and fake news on their platforms. There is also a growing discontent among users who allege that digital platforms have been indulging in arbitrary acts in taking down content, or not responding fast enough to grievances, despite users red-flagging them.

India has tightened rules for social media companies, increasing their accountability to users.

The government has emphasised that safety and trust are public policy objectives, and it will do all it takes to ensure suitable safeguards are in place for digital citizens navigating social media spaces.

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