By Yaw Ansah, GNA
Accra, Oct 19,
GNA - Panelists at the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards on
Friday unanimously agreed that there is the need to provide timely information
to reduce fake news during elections.
people, especially political party actors, made conjectures and spread false
information when electoral bodies failed to update electorates on the process.
Mrs Jean Mensa,
the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana speaking on the topic,
“Managing Elections in Africa-How can Social Media Help or Hurt Elections
Management,” said social media was a two-edge sword.
At the EC, she
explained that social media continued to serve as a channel of communication
and had helped reach out to its constituents by the click of a button.
are using social media as part of our communication tools to do voter
education. We constantly interact with people and provide answers to questions
related to electoral process.
communications department blend social media with the traditional media to
spread News statements on critical decisions. It is cost effective because one
needs not to spend much money on educational advertisements”.
Mensa said social media equally spread fake news and that there were instances,
where people spread fake news that sought to malign the integrity of the
commissioners and undermined the work of the commission.
To counter fake
news, the EC Chairperson said steps were taken by the Commission to strengthen
its communication department to provide timely information to the public on the
She urged the
public not to trust pieces of information they received on social media, but to
go a step further to check the authenticity of the information.
Asked about the
rising cost of elections, Mrs Mensa noted that the EC would use modern
technologies in other to reduce cost of organizing elections.
Mr Ahmed Newton
Barry, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Burkina Faso, sharing his
thoughts said it would be extremely difficult for any EC to stop the spread of
fake news, but rather provide information.
He said there
was the need to educate people that, any information concerning electoral
processes would come from the EC, but not any other organization.
“When it comes
to the struggle of power, many people do not give a second thought, they do
unimaginable things. All they want is power to be able to control resources and
they will go at all length,” he said.
Mr Barry said
the media with the ‘first to break the news syndrome’ contributed to the spread
of fake news and urged journalists to resist from such acts because as it had