Disinformation: Stakeholders, Synergize and fight this

The aspect of disinformation, as well as misinformation or malinformation was very much noticed when the Anglophone crisis escalated to an armed conflict. This crisis started in 2016, but in the later part of 2017 and early 2018, seperarists began using the social media to push forth their agenda.

Many people have access to the internet; while others are searching for information, others are sharing. Other people have other motives, they are either looking for likes and followers through the content the post, most at times these are propaganda.

Unfortunately, most often false information gets more attention, more likes and followers. When the media reports on the crisis it gwts more attention, especially when it has to do with blood; loss of lives or destruction.

Ngala Desmond is country Director for Defyhatenow Cameroon, he believes there is still so much work to do, in order to stop the phenomenon of disinformation. He talked about collective efforts, more sensitization and the need to be more practical. He explained that despite all their efforts, organizing of taking part in several trainings, "We flag content online that is not true, we are also keen in making sure we protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression on one hand ".

"Misinformation and Disinformation has taken a new form in our own space, practically because in the past 10years, as there has been a mark difference with misinformation and disinformation. Anyone from the streets everyone has the power to publish information, be it verified or not verified".

"There are also people running behind followers, likes or others who just wanted to share information at all cost. In classical media generally, there are 3 things that sell the most; sex, things arround blood, scandals that sell. Within the context of Cameroon, we see alot of misinformation arround issues of crisis, socio political upheavals in the country."

"The internet has facilitated alot of misinformation as much as it has brought its own good side of it which allows people have their voices heard without being completely censored as it was the case before now", Ngala Desmond.

Disinformation has made work very difficult for journalists working the the Northwest and Southwest regions. Before a journalist has time to verify some information, online and offline audience audience would have already digested the wrong information.

This aspect of disinformation has also caused conflict as many will turn to disagree on a particular subject. Ngala Desmond explains that there are different meaaures to kill the aspect of disinformation..

"The need to educate users of the internet, users of information that is being produced because misinformation and disinformation is not only on the internet but on all forms of communication that we have. As one of those effective measures, we advise that it is important for them to #Thinkbe4theyclick, making sure that each information produced has a main goal to preserve social peace", Ngala Desmond.

What usually trends on WhatsApp forums will be fowarded as recieved messages that distorts peace and facts put forth by other journalists on several issues.

"People should not just share information as recieve but be keen to details and why the information is being shared. In the past years we have had the cyber criminality law, the media law, which do not really cover fine details the questions of disinformation", Ngala Desmond.

The cyber law punishes when we share content that is not right or misleading but how well the laws are implemented is another problem.

"Contacting tech giants like Tiktok, facebook, twitter, google- The Meta familly generally who have the power, whose platforms are being used to published information, should use intelligence to limit the spread of disinformation on their different platforms when they can identify and should work with trusted partners to understand contextual realities, to flag and kill false information", Ngala Desmond.

Defyhatenow, Civic watch in Cameroon has been using different platforms to sensitize people to work with those who understand their context. They flag content online that is not true, we are also keen in making sure we protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression on one hand".

Stakeholders can synergize to tackle issues arround disinformation, they can use ground tools to limit the aspect of disinformation. There are several crisis or upheavals in Cameroon and stakeholders should use ground tools partaning to their context.

"It is important to sensitize cooperate persons inhouse, government agencies, parliamentarians, Cooperate institutions. The sensitization process should not only be for users but policy makers, decision makers".

To Ngala Desmond, Collaboration for good practices should be win-win collaboration. "It should not just look at where the money goes but look at where the impact comes from and to whom such collaboration should be given. This should be collaboration within the context of training, capacity reinforcement", Ngala Desmond, Country director Defyhatenow.

Eugene Nforngwa is Executive Director, Rainforest Center for Policy Research. He spoke at length on how Africa and Europe could coperate to tackle disinformation.

"Both Europe and Africa do face the extreme consequences of desinformation at critical levels. The gross manipulation of facts about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a one example of how the information fraud impacts the relationship between both continents. Consequently, we see a number of avenues through which both continents can collaborate to mitigate the effects of disinformation as we see it today".

"For example, the most used vehicles for the proliferation of the information fraud are digital instruments that are founded or managed in Europe. By improving regulation and working towards a better understanding of digital rights, authorities and institutions can curb excesses", Eugene Nforngwa.

A potent remedy according to Eugene to fight disinformation is also about decrying fake news, misinformation and manipulation.

'There must be a concerted effort to guarantee access to factual information. Unfortunately this is an area where we see a lack of transparency. Governments on both sides of the Mediterranean have a responsibility to provide information or cause stakeholders to commit to openness", Eugene Nforngwa.

By Ndefru Melanie

CivicLens delivers the news as it is and provides solutions for common workflows, engage citizens in up to date Information, while maintaining a secure system of record for assets and activities, improving service delivery, and increasing citizen satisfaction.

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