Dealing with misinformation

 The internet is a very useful tool for improv­ing our knowledge base and especially for communi­cating same. It is therefore very important for societies across the globe.

It has the potential to unite people all over the world. Communication has never been so fascinating as we have now where you can interact with someone in real time and seeing what he or she is wearing or doing.

However, it is like a double edged sword which can do good and at the same time cause serious harm or even death. Within a short period, a large group of people can be reached with misleading information which has the potential of creating chaos in society.

Misinformation is defined by the Oxford English Dictio­nary as “false or inaccurate information especially that which is deliberately intend­ed to deceive.” It is partic­ularly worrying to observe the use of the internet by various interest groups to push lies and fabricated stories to enhance their in­terest without regard to the impact of such misinforma­tion on individuals, groups or even countries.

There have been stories of prominent international personalities regarding their biological gender, i.e. their biological sex at birth. These stories were accompanied by videos that suggested that they were male at their young age but have delib­erately transformed their gender at some point in their lives which are palpa­ble falsehood being wickedly peddled. The sad thing is that some people tend to believe these lies packaged as the gospel truth, creating chaos in society.

In America, Donald Trump, the former President used misinformation to claim that the election was stolen from him even though later events have proven that he knew he had been genuinely defeated by Joe Biden, the current President.

The ridiculous extent to which these perpetrators of misinformation are willing to go, is mind boggling. Some of Trump supporters claimed that the counting machines subtracted votes from Trump and added them to that of Biden. Others too claimed that the ghost of Hugo Chavez, the former Presi­dent of Venezuela came to manipulate the vote count­ing machines.

The danger here is that some of the people in­volved in misinformation are influential so some people believe what they say, espe­cially the uneducated youth and adults.

The only way to stop mis­information is to establish channels that can dispute or fact check these lies.

Government spokesper­sons must also be proactive to counteract misinforma­tion.

Transparency is also one sure way to curtail misin­formation as the current electricity situation in the country for instance is being manipulated. Instead of the government coming out with the facts to put to rest speculations, they are not being forthright and peo­ple are reading all manner of meanings into it. There have been occasions in this country when fake news had surfaced about the death of prominent people who were later found to be very much alive.

These fake news would in some instances have been nullified if the rumours sur­rounding that particular ce­lebrity or prominent person had been dispelled by being transparent about what the real issue was.

Spokespersons should not wait till rumours spread before coming out with clar­ification about the situation because the harm would already have been done.

Laud Kissi-Mensah

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