The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday called for stronger collaboration with the media in the efforts to combat fake news.
INEC made the call through the Chief Press Secretary to its Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, at a two-day capacity workshop for INEC Press Corps, in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, stating that the collaboration would also minimise misinformation and disinformation about the electoral process.
The workshop focuses on “Ethics, Safety, Practices and Critical Issues Relating to the Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa governorship elections”.
Oyekanmi’s presentation was titled “Impact of fake news, misinformation and disinformation on election information: INEC’s experience”.
He said that misinformation and fake news were among the major challenges INEC faced while conducting the 2023 general elections, adding that the trend was a threat to democracy and was not limited to the social media alone.
“Some conventional mediums also fell for the fake news or misinformation that emanated from the social media,” he recalled.
He also recalled how some citizens and social media influencers spread fake news regarding the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, collection of Permanent Voter Cards and recruitment of staff for INEC.
There were also some falsehood related to ethnicity and the elections, he added.
He said that many journalists also fell for such fake claims because of sentiments and individual prejudices.
“We had many situations where fake news got published without any form of verification. No questions asked about their authenticity,” he fumed.
He said that journalists had the responsibility to report facts without taking side on every matter, including election process.
“Facts are sacred. It is fundamentally important to present accurate and verifiable information.
“Journalists have a responsibility to report facts without distorting them to fit a particular narrative. The public relies on the media for truthful account of events,” he said.
Oyekanmi added that a strong collaboration between INEC and the media was critical for a proactive approach to curbing fake news, disinformation and misinformation.
He urged the media to be factual, objective, truthful and fair in their reports on electoral process.
“Conducting free, fair, credible and inclusive elections is a collective responsibility.
“INEC will continue to provide the media with access to the relevant information it requires,” he promised.