Last month, Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa, Head Public Policy of Meta in sub-Saharan Africa presented two workshops on social networking in Mauritius, in collaboration with the Mauritian government.
Limiting offensive content on Facebook
This year, the National Computer Board’s Mauritian Cybercrime Online Reporting System recorded more than 1,600 Facebook-related incidents. On the other hand, the Cybercrime Unit of the Mauritius Police had registered 218 complaints related to the same social network.
As we have seen with the debates around the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime bill and the ICTA Act this year, there is a real willingness on the part of the Mauritian government to act in order to limit the excesses on social networks, especially on Facebook. Indeed, the issue of cyberbullying and offensive content on Meta platforms is thorny in Mauritius. On the island, most exchanges on Facebook are in Creole, a language that the bots moderating the network can filter. In addition, during the opening ceremony prior to the workshops, the Minister of Information, Communication and Innovation Technology (ICT), Deepak Balgobin, had explained that one of the main problems with Facebook in Mauritius was the relatively long time it took for the social network to remove content that was causing harm to Mauritian users.
That’s why last month the government agreed to a series of workshops organized by Meta in a collaborative effort with the Internet giant.
A problem of misinformation
The visit thus followed a request by Deepak Balgobin made in July 2021 to Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Meta, for collaboration between his department and Meta’s regional office.
In this way, the workshops were held on November 24 and 25, 2021 in Ebene, with the objective of increasing the understanding of the mechanism of Meta by sensitizing those present to a better use of the social network. In addition, a panel discussion on content and misinformation policies was held focusing on the global approach to help solve the information crisis and fake news on the social network platform. Meta’s Regional Policy Officer for Southern Africa, Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa, and others were also present at the event. Approximately 23 participants physically attended the roundtable, while others participated virtually.
Indeed, the problem of fake news and misinformation is very present in Mauritius, especially via the chains of messages relayed on Messenger and Whatsapp, two messengers owned by Meta. The problem is that this is a phenomenon that has grown enormously with the pandemic, which is why the government is being extremely tough on those who spread false information. In addition, in Mauritius, anyone found guilty of disseminating fake news faces a fine of up to Rs 1 million as well as a ten-year prison sentence.