Fake news undermines democracy

Fake News
Fake News

The propagation of fake news undermines democracy, communication, and civilisation, Mr Nehemiah Attigah, Principal Lead, GhanaDecides, and Odekro, has said.

“Fake news is a probable lie (a manipulated text/photograph/video/audio), which is presented as factually accurate,” Mr Attigah said at a workshop for bloggers and journalists in Accra.

He said multiple factors driving more fake news were politics, money, and the ease of technology.

The workshop on the theme: “Stop, Reflect, Verify”, was organised by the United States Embassy in Accra, in partnership with Mobile Web Ghana.

It was organised as part of efforts to help people gain an understanding of what constituted fake news and its effect on society.

Mr Attigah said people must be aware of sources that always gave them information that supported their beliefs and ideology; adding that they must also be aware of a source that saw every event that happened as a confirmation of its view point.

He urged people to be mindful of any source, which blamed one political party or opposition candidate for everything bad.

He mentioned tools such as exifdata.com that could help identity date and time whilst Newsguard helped rate the credibility and transparency of news sources.

“Everyone has the responsibility to combat the scourge of fake news. This ranges from investigative journalism, reducing incentives for fake news, and improving digital literacy among the public,” he said.

“Let’s all call out fake news and disinformation without legitimizing them.” Mr Attigah said people must fact check what they read and determine the authority of the author or source.

He noted due to fake news, some people ended up committing suicide, which was very unfortunate.

Mr Atiggah said propagation of fake news was punishable under the laws of Ghana, citing Section 76, Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775): (1) A person who by means of electronic communications service, knowingly sends a communication, which is false or misleading and likely to prejudice the efficiency of life-saving service or to endanger the safety of any person, … commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than [thirty-six thousand Ghana Cedis] or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both.

(2) A person is taken to know that communication is false or misleading if that person did not take reasonable steps to find out whether the communication was false, misleading, reckless, or fraudulent.

Madam Florence Toffa, Chief Executive Officer, Mobile Web Ghana, said as Ghana prepared for its December 7 general election, there was the need to get the people informed on what constituted fake news and how to verify it.

She urged social media users to always verify their news sources before they pressed the share button.

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