Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Google and Facebook criticised over DR Congo ads

A US professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is accusing technology giants Facebook and Google of promoting false information on their platforms about the presidential elections in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Residents chant slogans against Congolese President Joseph Kabila as peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) patrol during demonstrations in the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

In a post on Medium Ethan Zuckerman shared screengrabs of advertisements on the two platforms declaring Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the ruling party’s candidate, as the winner.

The electoral commission said results of last week’s election were delayed because less than half the ballots had arrived.

The influential Catholic church, which deployed 40,000 observers during the 30 December election, said that it knows who won the election. Its statement has been condemned by officials in President Joseph Kabila’s government.

The government has also limited internet access in the country.

“So why are ads on Google and Facebook, apparently targeted towards internet users in DRC’s neighbor, Congo-Brazzaville, declaring Emmanuel Shadary to be DRC’s new president?” Mr Zuckerman asked in his post.

“Facebook and Google’s powerful ad systems may be being used to reinforce election fraud, either by targeting these ads to Brazzaville or to DRC itself, where a small number of people are still on the internet,” he added.

He said that he is collecting similar images that “we can ask Google and Facebook to prevent the transmission of false information that could be used to cement a stolen election.” BBC News