Social media has been recognised as an enabler for citizen participation and governance processes as it provides an avenue for ordinary people to receive and share information on policies that affect their daily lives. In recent times however, social media has become a major tool for spreading misinformation, disinformation, and perpetuating the phenomenon of “fake news”, especially during elections, leading to mistrust of the media, political tensions and disorder across Africa.
Ghana has had its fair share of this information disorder over the years and it is expected to be widespread this year ahead of the elections considering the competitive nature of Ghana’s elections.
Penplusbytes with support from DW Akademie is rolling out activities under its media and information literacy campaign for the youth; aimed at educating the young on what is information disorder and how to circumvent its forms while consuming media content as well as producing credible media content by themselves.
On Thursday 27th and Friday 28th February, the project team would bring together young persons aged 15 to 35 years, media practitioners and programmers to brainstorm and reflect on what tech tools, products or applications would be useful to curb the menace of “fake news” during elections 2020 and beyond.
The event dubbed “#IdeathonMILElections 2020” would take the form of an ideathon, which is a novel means of developing innovative start-ups in the tech field.
According to the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Juliet Amoah, “An ideathon is an intensive, brainstorming event to help young talents generate fresh solutions to existing challenges in their communities. We are hopeful that this one would address the growing concern of the implications of misinformation and how the nation through its youth can combat the issue of fake news m during elections 2020.”
On his part, Project Manager for DW Akademie Ghana, Simon Fischer reiterated the need for innovative technologies in addressing societal concerns. “At a time when new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. are being used globally at every step to move closer to digital transformation, ideathons can help us to leverage on these new ideas in tackling our everyday challenges such as mis- and dis-information,” he said.
The media and information literacy campaign spearheaded by Penplusbytes has come at an opportune time when young persons need to be educated on their social media behaviours particularly during the election campaign period.
Penplusbytes has already started with youth projects and summer schools that have helped a number of young persons improve both their personal skills and their media and information related skills.
These activities amongst others is expected to generate ideas and technologies that could drive innovative solutions which will enable the youth make informed decisions as users of news and media. It is hoped that at the end, the youth will become skilful creators and producers of media messages as they participate in Ghana’s upcoming elections.
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.