Africa Fact-checking Fellowship Conference: Synergy Against Unfounded Information, Hate Speech

The first ever conference bringing together stakeholders from Cameroon and beyond held in Yaounde from November 18-19, 2022.

“Towards a synergy of actions against mis/dis/malinformation and the spread of hate speech for peace and development in Cameroon,” was the theme of the pioneer Africa Factchecking Fellowship, Cameroon, AFFCameroon conference, which held in Yaounde from November 18-19, 2022. The two-day event comprised workshops, master class and plenary sessions on various topics. While the panel members and facilitators were from Cameroon and beyond. 


Conference Objectives
According to the organizers, Defyhatenow Cameroon, the objective was to create and strengthen a synergy of actions to reduce the negative effects of misinformation, disinformation and mal-information on lasting peace and social cohesion. As well as initiate an action plan for a coordinated response against mis/disinformation, and define joint responses between the different stakeholders. It also sought to reduce the gap between perceptions and reality as observed on the ground while tackling the challenges of mis/disinformation as threats to peace with the aid of factchecking. 
Finally, the conference aimed to promote digital, media and information literacy among public and private entities and open access to information of organizations. And to initiate advocacy for a legal framework and regulatory mechanisms on mis/disinformation and personal data protection. Conference participants were representatives of public and private institutions, diplomatic missions, international and regional organizations, civil society organizations, educational institutions, media professionals and associations, and AFF Cameroon fellows.


Synergy Of Action 
“The main objective of the conference was to bring together journalists to discuss what concrete action we will take in the coming years. We believe there should be synergy in action between the government and the civil society, international organisations and social media platforms,” said Desmond Ngala, Defyhatenow Country Manager for West and Central Africa. “To counter misinformation, disinformation and mal-information, we have put in place media education. We educate people on how to use the media by advising them to think before clicking. People should not share media content anyhow,” he cautioned.   


Ground Mobilisation 
“We are mobilise civic action, strengthen voices on the ground – be they journalists, civil society organisations and those in the social media and mainstream media. We can push for discourse for people not to share information as received, but verify information as it comes in. We can hold Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in Cameroon to take action against this. We are happy that you can now forward a message on WhatsApp it shows that the message was forwarded many times before. This is good! We would like to see many community standards beefed up on questions of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation,” Desmond Ngala noted. 


“The message of the Ministry of Communication to the conference was clear. Like the Minister has always said, press freedom is truly effective in Cameroon. It is only dampened by fake news, misinformation and hate speech. Our message is for people to become more conscious of the problem before legal action is taken against them,” warned Mr. Mveng Alphonse, the Technical Adviser Number 1 in the Ministry of Communication.


A Frightening Level  
“The phenomenon of disinformation in Cameroon has reached a frightening level. The advent of the Internet has raised disinformation to higher heights. This is so because news is current, and when it is not founded, it spreads faster than right information,” commented Prof. Nta a Bitang, the Deputy Director of the Advanced School of Mass Communication of the University of Yaounde II. 


Something Has To Be Done
It was time for us to sit together and discuss this problem and seek solutions to fight disinformation. For example, factchecking, which is a job often carried out by journalists, takes time. Moreover, you need to be trained to track...



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