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CSOs play a role in combating fake news—Gec

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By Serah Makondetsa:

Representatives of Global Engagement Centre (Gec), a United States of America state department, have attributed fake news and misinformation to technological advancement and transformation change.

This came out on Wednesday during a Foreign Press Centre reporting tour on media literacy and combating misinformation in Washington DC.

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Speaking to 24 journalists from various countries, Acting Deputy Coordinator at the Gec, Jonathan Henick, said fake news and misinformation is not a new phenomenon, arguing technology has promoted its occurrence.

Henick said there is need for collective efforts to combat the malpractice, particularly in countries that are preparing for elections.

“The issue of fake news cannot be dealt with by governments alone; there is need for collective efforts. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should play a role in keeping politicians in check. The media has to be active in ensuring that the public has access to truthful news,” he said.

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He said there is need for social responsibility among the citizens to combat fake news and misinformation.

“There has to be good communication from the media. Countries should initiate fact checking organisations which help detect what, mostly, politicians say whether on their social media pages or rallies. No one can solve the problem overnight but through collective effort it can be reduced,” he said.

In a telephone interview with Malawi News, Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) agreed that CSOs indeed play a crucial role in promoting truth and sensitising the general public.

“We can almost link fake news to propaganda. It has become a growing trend for individuals to create fake news websites and write fake news which is mostly misleading. Everyone can be a victim of fake news and indeed the trend is growing and has to be curbed,” he said.

The reporting tour will among others cover topics such as “The News Media Landscape in a Digital, Polarized Age”, Research and trends related to news habits and attitudes; trust in the media and misinformation.

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