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As Indian election looms, Facebook steps up fact-checks

Reuters  |  MUMBAI 

(Reuters) - Inc is expanding its network in to curb the spread of as the world's largest prepares for a that must be held by May, the U.S.-based giant said on Monday.

"We are committed to fighting the spread of false on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 campaign season," Manish Khanduri, India's partnership head, said in the statement.

The coming election is expected to be a close fought battle between Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist and the opposition and its regional allies.

Last week, said it was introducing stricter rules for political advertisements in

The latest move to strengthen the fact checking programme is aimed at verifying the accuracy of stories and preventing the spread of hoaxes.

Five new partners, including the Today Group, a leading local media house, have been added to Facebook's fact-checker network, taking the total number to seven, the statement said.

And the programme has been broadened to cover services in more Indian languages, so that it will now cover English and five local languages, the statement added.

India is Facebook's largest market by users, and its messaging service has more than 200 million users in the country thanks to the advent of cheap mobile data and increasing penetration of

Aside from concerns over misuse of for political purposes, there has also been criticism over the spread of false, incendiary messages that have fanned communal tensions and sparked mob violence.

Last year, after a series of lynchings were incited by messages sent on its service, reduced the number of people or groups that a message could be forwarded to at one time, cutting it to five from 20 previously. has since moved to make that its norm worldwide.

Facebook's main rival in India, Alphabet Inc's Google, has also conducted scores of workshops across the country to train journalists to verify

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 15:33 IST