19 Sep 2019 16:40pm
WINDHOEK 19 SEP (NAMPA) The Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) has urged users of social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to be more discerning about the information they choose to read and share.
Speaking at a panel discussion and launch of a briefing paper titled Fake News and Namibian elections on Wednesday, panellist and research associate at the IPPR, Frederico Links said fake news is false information compiled and distributed with the intention to mislead readers, especially in the print and social media space.
He informed the audience on how fake news is used as a political tool in order to influence the outcome of an election.
Links gave an example of the 2017 national elections in Kenya, where fake news on both ends of the political divide was used to campaign and de-campaign competing parties and their candidates.
Given that 2019 is an election year in Namibia, Links gave an example of a social media account published under the name Breaking News, as a propaganda tool used spread misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms, calling this practice a subset of fake news.
Links demonstrated through a detailed presentation how the account is used to praise and promote particular ruling party politicians, but also to launch attacks against political opponents of those politicians.
He said similar tactics may be employed in the run-up to the November elections and warned the public to make informed decisions by filtering information at their disposal.
He also blamed the proliferation of fake news on poor journalism which makes it difficult for the public to distinguish between information coming from a legitimate source and information that is not.
Links told the audience public trust in the media is declining as a result of the spread of fake news and in order to counter this information pollution, media practitioners should practice journalistic excellence in order to distinguish themselves from those responsible for spreading.
The panel discussion was moderated by Executive Chairperson of the Namibia Media Trust, Gwen Lister.
The other panellists included Karabo Rajuili, the advocacy coordinator for amaBhungane, (an award winning investigative journalism organisation based in South Africa) and Ololade Shyllon, a South African-based Nigerian human rights advocate.