Africa Needs to Plan Ahead to Fight Misinformation: Experts

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Addis Ababa ENA September 26/2019 Africa needs to plan ahead on how to fight misinformation with new scientific methods and fact checking, experts said.

Richard Ngamita, Data Specialist from Uganda, is among media and communication experts, who attended the forum on internet freedom in Africa 2019 (FIFAfrica19), being held in Addis Ababa.

Ngamita told ENA that with the growing of the social media platform, misinformation is prevalent in the continent and the practice will continue, due to low level of fact checking trend.

“If we don’t plan ahead, on ideas and strategies on how to fight misinformation, with new scientific methods and information process in fact checking and looking at what is right and what is wrong, we’re setting ourselves for failure”, he said.

“We need to keep learning, we need to proactively start tackling [misinformation] and everyone should be involved including the government,” noting that fact checking is still in the infant stage.

Digital Rights Initiatives Consultant, Izak Minnaar from South Africa said fact checking trend in Africa should be developed.

According to Minnaar, journalists need to take the primary responsibility in fact checking and the initiative for the development of the trend among the public.

“You need fact checkers in news room and you also need to check facts in news room and also in statements from be it the president, PM or any officials”, he said.

“I think generally with the age of social media, the importance for fact checking becomes a key part of media and information environment”, Minaar assured.

Journalists need to be responsible for verifying and making sure that the information in social media are correct.

Kofi Yeboah, General Secretary of Ghana Journalists Association, agrees on the need to take responsibility in disseminating information.

He said freedom of internet should be exercised with responsibility.

“We know that freedom goes with responsibility. But we don’t have to shut down the internet access to crack people. Let the people express themselves with responsibility”.

With the increase of internet access and low level of fact checking trends and mechanism, Africans are becoming subject to misinformation, which in some instances led to conflicts.

By 2025, half of Africa`s population is going to use internet.