In its continuous efforts to flatten the infodemic curve during the electioneering period in Nigeria, FactCheck Elections has trained fact-checkers, students, and civil society organizations ahead of the 2023 elections.
Over 45 participants attended the One-day Intensive Training on Elections Fact-Check held on January 14th at Ibadan, Oyo state capital.
FactCheck Elections hosted the media practitioners through a partnership with Brain Builders Youth Development Initiatives, funded by Karibu Foundation.
Different sessions were effectively handled by facilitators, including, Lekan Otufodunrin, Media Career Development Specialist; Lanre Olagunju, fact-check editor at TheCable newspaper; Zainab Sanni, Multimedia Journalist and Fact checker at Media Innovation Development; David Ajikobi, Nigeria Editor at Africa Check, and Lanre Olanrewaju, an investigative data journalist at Dataphyte.
The facilitators discussed Debunking Fake News using Open Source Investigation Tools, (OSINT); How electioneering campaigns and debates fuels misinformation and the way forward; The role of Traditional Media in Nigeria in Combating Fake News and Misinformation; Tips for Fact Checking in Real-time Using Social Media and other Online Tools and Data and the Use of Infographics for Fact Checks.
During his hour-long discussion, Otufodunrin stated that the training is necessary to equip journalists to effectively combat misinformation.
He also noted that the journalists can deploy the traditional ways of fact-checking, which include visiting a poll unit people are making claims about.
“If we want peaceful fact-checkers to have a role to play as fact-checkers in fighting misinformation, we must be knowledgeable ourselves. Anybody can share information, but not everybody is a journalist.”
On her part, Sanni emphasized the roles Traditional Media can play in combating fake news and misinformation, but noting that traditional media are faced with numerous challenges such as proprietary influence, funding, etc.
Sanni however, called for the establishment of fact-check desks in media organizations across the country to facilitate effective debunking of misinformation, especially during election periods.
She said, “There are lots of challenges for traditional media in combating fake news, they include proprietorial influence and fun and ding amongst others.
“There should be a collaboration between show hosts and fact checkers where public personalities that feature on shows could be held accountable for misinformation/ disinformation. Traditional media must create a fact check desk. This collaboration will help to easily take FactCheck to more people.”
On his part, Ajikobi in an engaging discussion said there is a need to be ways democratic in fact-checking, saying fact-checkers need to reconfirm claims with claim makers before verification. He added that it is important to share the reports with a person that is being fact-checked for such a person to know his/her mistake.
“Be careful when politicians pass off opinions as facts. Don’t assume that you know, go and check. Revalidate the claims and do well to share the fact-check reports with those who claimed so that they can acknowledge their error. It is a democracy of information,” he said.
The Africa Check editor further discussed why people share mis/disinformation, saying it is because it aligns with their biases.
Another facilitator, Olagunju charged the participants to be proactive and engage in the prebunking of information, saying, ” fact checkers should engage in prebunking and be proactive by putting every information possible out there to preempt #misinformation.”
Emphasizing the importance of fact-checking in decision-making, he said, “If we don’t fact-check, members of the public who are supposed to make decisions will be badly affected.”
Oyedeji engaged the participants in data and the use of Infographics for fact-checking. He upheld that infographics enhance effective communication.
According to him, the attention span of people to long content is low, and infographics help you to communicate your facts as briefly as possible.”
Earlier in her welcome speech, the Executive Director of the Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, (BBDYI), Jimoh Nurah Sanni stressed the contribution of the spread of fake news to the country’s decaying democracy, especially during election periods.
She also emphasized the efforts of FactcheckElections in its unbiased fight against misinformation during the process of the election. “One of the major pointers of Nigeria’s democracy is the regular elections that we hold. However, at a time when democratic institutions are backsliding in different parts of the world, there is an urgent need to ensure that our democracy Is protected.
“One of the biggest threats to democratic institutions, especially the electoral process, is the spread of fake news. Unfortunately, the interconnectedness of our world has made the spread of misinformation more viral than ever. As a result, the damage caused when it is left unchecked has unprecedented consequences.
“We started the Fact Check Elections initiative to protect our democracy by being at the forefront of preventing the spread of fake news about our elections and mitigating its impact. We believe that for people to make informed and rational decisions at the polls, they must continuously have access to accurate information about the process.
“Today, as part of our efforts to ensure that the 2023 election is not marred by misinformation, we have organized this workshop to train you and equip you with skills that will help you effectively fact-checkElections.
“You have an essential role to play, and this workshop ensures that you are well-equipped for the task ahead. Our facilitators are experts who understand the enormity of the task ahead and are ready to provide you with the necessary resources.”