The National Media Commission (NMC) is collaborating with major stakeholders to deploy a new software, that will help curb the incidence of fake news and disinformation during the election period.
The election watch software, developed by the NMC and Softmasters, an IT Company, would help in election incidence capturing, media monitoring, fake news and disinformation analysis.
The Commission, on Thursday held a high-level meeting with the stakeholders that included the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Private Newspapers Association of Ghana (PRINGPAG), Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, (GIBA), and the National Peace Council, the National Commission for Civic Education, the National Commission on Small Arms and Lights Weapons, and the Security Agencies, in Accra to get their buy-in into the new App system.
Dr Ben Adu, Chief Executive Officer of Softmasters, explained to the stakeholders that the software system had been designed to help provide accurate information as well as to verify incidents as they happened on the field.
It is an evidence gathering and monitoring tool that would inform decision makers on happenings around the elections, Dr Adu stated.
“What we have done is to provide a platform that allows every cellphone to capture videos and pictures but it would timestamp the videos and pictures with the time that the incident happened, and then the GPS location and the address.
“So all pictures and videos that would be sent have the component of time, and location so you know precisely where the thing is related to or what issue the thing is related to.
“We think that with the coming elections, if this thing is available, it will deter those who want to go and do the wrong things, because they will know that there are hundreds of phones around, that would capture them so they would be known,” Dr Adu explained.
He said the app would be tested for three weeks and then made available to members of the media who would be accredited to cover the general elections, as well as the other stakeholders.
He said, also with the App, one could take a picture, or record an event and the system would pick the GPS information, but all users would have to register as authorised users by filling a registration form, sign-in to submit results or incident or even a report, Dr Adu added.
Mr George Sarpong, Executive Director of the NMC, said the App was developed to aid media coverage and information on the elections and to give citizens an opportunity to submit complaints and grievances about the media for consideration or analysis.
He said the software app was an upgrade over the previous system, where the Commission relayed more on samples of radio or television stations to monitor information and the other happenings of the election.
“So this time, every radio and TV station and every online platform, can access information on the app, while the other major stakeholders could use the app to do their work.
“It helps us to address the questions of disinformation and fake news. When somebody submits a material about something happening at a polling station and it is not true, the system enables us to know in real time that this is not true”.
He said the Police could also use the app to track violence at a polling station while the Electoral Commission could use it to know areas where they need to respond to issues like delay in the supply of ballot materials and the unavailability of ballot materials.
It is a total monitoring system, which would contribute towards credible elections in Ghana, he said.
The representatives of the various stakeholders at the meeting, especially the GJA, PRINGPAG, and the security agencies, welcomed the app and pledged their support for the system.