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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Gambian journalists launch fact-checking platform

Gambian journalists launch fact-checking platform

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By Alagie Manneh

Some 30 Gambian journalists yesterday gathered at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Hall in Bijilo to launch FactCheck Gambia, a media platform for the verification and fact-checking of claims to counter information disorder.

FactCheck Gambia is The Gambia’s only indigenous and first independent digital fact-checking platform. The platform is aimed at curbing the spread of dis/misinformation on both traditional and social media by targeting and correcting false or misleading claims or statements.

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The managing director of the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication, Sang Mendy, whose institution is tasked with managing the platform, said: “The impact of half-truths and misleading information can be life-threatening and can lead to misapplication of funds, poor policy-making and poor decision-making and sometimes spark violence. Worryingly, the spread of misinformation and false public claims undermine, weaken and threaten democracy. The role of journalists is crucial. They have a duty to expose fake news and share verified information citizens can trust and rely on.”

Aissata De, the UN resident representative, said the UN is happy to support the development of fact-checking organisations in The Gambia.

“One of the key components of this initiative is to address fake speech and counter misinformation both on traditional and social media,” she said.

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She said elections constitute key moments in the life of any country as they enable citizens to elect their leaders.

“But there is also a time when so-called false news can proliferate to mislead the public.  In times like this, facts can be a matter of life and death. Therefore, this platform will help to strengthen that civic education role that the media plays…”

The minister of information, Ebrima Sillah, said the initiative to set up a fact-checking platform in the country could not have come at a better time when the country is preparing for a series of elections.

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