Tuesday, May 30

Fact Check Center CEO briefs media, recommends capacity building for CSOs –

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By Mama A. Touray

The Executive Officer of Fact Check Gambia, Omar Saibo Camara on Sunday after the observation of the mayoral and chairmanship elections, recommended capacity building within the civil society ecosystem on information disorder.

Speaking to the media, at a briefing held at TANGO building, he said Fact Check Gambia recommended that capacity should be built within the civil society ecosystem on information disorder, and citizen-run organizations must be vigilant and active in identifying and exposing disinformation to make a difference, even if it is misinformed.

He added that replying to incorrect comments and setting the record straight with facts can help counter information disorder. 

Fact Check Center further recommended the promotion of media and information literacy skills among citizens especially for politicians, youth, and women.

He said there is a need to facilitate the works of independent fact-checkers, whose work is becoming increasingly important in the age of disinformation, by helping to protect their work, investing in new technologies to verify content and track the spread of disinformation across social media, is key.

“The information space remains toxic with the prevalence of information disorder. Disinformation serves as the biggest threat to democracy and democratic processes including elections and electoral processes. The findings from EAC today have shown a stable trend of disinformation during the voting and counting process,” he highlighted.

Mr. Camara added that social media has again proved to be the hotspot for spreading fake news and that they have seen the resistance of citizens to the threats of misinformation and disinformation.

Meanwhile, he highlighted the following key findings saying “We encountered 3 claims that were false or misleading; one of which was claimed by one Kemeseng Sanneh fondly called KexxSanneh on Facebook that the Mayor’s salary has been increased from D610,811.17 to D676,575.64. The second claim we fact-checked was made by BBC News Africa, that Gambian soldiers were going around and pulling down campaign posters of opposition political Mayor, Talib Ahmed Bensouda.”

He continued: “We also received a claim by Bob Touray on Facebook again that unnamed blank voter cards were intercepted at the Bakoteh Polling Station. Away from the false claims, we had the honor of verifying 4 truthful claims; first of which our observers verified, that the two main political parties, NPP and UDP, were involved in influencing voter decisions at a polling station in Banjul.”

He said the second fact check was on the truthful claims made on Facebook by Hon. Yahya Menteng Sanyang that a woman in Abuko was caught with double registration but the ARO confiscated the cards and she was denied voting.

“Third, our truthful claims were also verified by an election observer on the ground that a party agent for UDP at the Lasso Wharf market polling station claimed to have been beaten by PIU officers.

“Lastly, a journalist present during a scene reported that during a press briefing with the NPP candidate for BAC, a vehicle made a sudden appearance bearing the poster flyers of an independent candidate vying for the same position at the same council. Finally, two of our explainers, one of which talked about the dangers of misinformation and how to detect it and the last one asked the question ‘Do you know that this is the first mayoral election without the 2016 coalition?’ going in-depth on the formation of the said coalition,” he narrated their findings.