A senior lecturer at the Department of Communication Studies (UG), Dr. Abena Yeboah-Banin has cautioned social media users and electorates to be circumspect of messages they are exposed to on online platforms.
She was speaking to Captain Smart on the ‘Anↄpa Bↄfoↄ’ morning show on Friday December 4, 2020 about the relevance of media and information literacy (MIL) especially during elections.
This follows the virtual launch of a Media Information Literacy (MIL) and Elections campaign dubbed “Youth Media and Information Literacy and the 2020 General Elections” by the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana in partnership with DW Akademie and Penplusbytes on Thursday November 26, 2020 as the country inches close to the 2020 General Elections.
According to Dr. Yeboah-Banin, MIL is not limited to only social media but covers traditional media like radio and TV and all sources of information hence the need to be media savvy.
“It is imperative to understand that not all information or news are factual”.
She noted that, this is the era of ‘photoshop’ thus, it is easy for miscreants to edit images, motion pictures and text to mislead the masses for their own agenda.
“When a politician is determined to win an election, they are willing to do everything to win your vote including fabricating lies, using photoshop to edit pictures to deceive the electorates for political gains”, she stressed.
The UG lecturer added that, to avoid falling prey to fake news social media users and electorates must “pause, reflect and ran background checks before deciding to like and share news and/or information on social media”
The trained journalist continued that the antidote to fake news and election-related disinformation is to factcheck media messages and information sources before liking and sharing.
Dr. Abena Yeboah-Banin further warned that Ghanaians should not sit on social media to declare election results but rather allow the Electoral Commission (EC), which is mandated by law, to carry out their constitutional mandate.
While urging journalists and media organizations to be responsible and verify information they churn out, she encouraged the public to play their role to check fake news especially in this political season.
Fake news and elections
Recently, it has become a trend for some political actors to churn out fake news for political gains.
At a press conference held October 14, 2020, the Zongo Minister Mustapha Hamid accused the NDC of creating websites to churn out fake stories to purposely misinform Ghanaians and cause disaffection for the NPP.
Similarly, the NPP again accused the NDC of doctoring a past video to implicate President Akufo-Addo as corrupt though the NDC has denied resorting to such tactics for political gains.
In view of that some media organizations and other institutions have facilitated the training journalists to help combat election-related misinformation and disinformation ahead of Monday December 7, 2020 polls.
In October, FactSpace West Africa launched the Fact-check for peace initiative to train journalists from 11 media houses to tackle mis/disinformation in a bid to secure Ghana’s democratic gains.