#IFF2018: PTCIJ launches fact-checking partnership

Panelists at Facebook Roundtable on Fake News at the Internet Freedom Forum
Panelists at Facebook Roundtable on Fake News at the Internet Freedom Forum

Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) is set to launch a partnership with the Paradigm Initiative on Dubawa, its fact-checking arm.

The launch will be done at the ongoing Internet Freedom Forum (IFF) in Abuja, which PREMIUM TIMES is a partner.

The founder of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, described the partnership as a means to enhance the combat against fake news towards and during the 2019 election.

He also described the Dubawa project as a proactive one that ensures fake news do not become excuse for internet shutdown.

The IFF aims to bring to the fore global issues around internet rights especially in Africa.

The forum brings together civil society, technology companies, the government, peope in the academia among others, to discuss solutions to internet related global issues.

Live updates of the forum will follow shortly.

10.00 a.m.-12.00 p.m.

The forum kicked off with a roundtable by Facebook on fake news.

The panelists were: PREMIUM TIMES Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi; former Director General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Joe Abah; Founder, Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan; Publisher, Order Paper, Oke Epia and Facebook Public Policy Manager, Africa, Akua Gyekye.

On the issue of fake news becoming a reason for the shutdown of the Internet, Mr Sesan gave examples of how governments around the world shut down the internet because they felt threatened by the possibility of it becoming a means of spreading fake news.
“In order for it not be an excuse in 2019, we are doing this. We are trying to see ways to eliminate that excuse. 2018 is the year of fake news. WhatsApp is the armpit of fake news, and it usually comes from our parents and close relatives. We have to research the truth and replace the misinformation with it,” he said.

Mr Opia however said the determination of what would be called “fake news” cannot be left to the government to make.

He also spoke on organisational policies that determine fake news, adding that individuals should be careful by fact-checking themselves

“What policies do we have for members of staff as regards the sharing of information?

“As individuals, what are we doing to combat fake news? What ethical grounds do I have to stop spreading misinformation? As citizens, we need to learn to fact-check ourselves,” he said.

12.00 p.m. to 12.30 p.m

Akua Gyekye, representive of Facebook said the starting point is to ask what fake news actually is.

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She said for instance, through robots, Facebook can identify ‘suspicious’ accounts and “take down fake news before it can be shared”.

She also said Facebook is considering using funny videos, “among other measures to enlighten people on why and how to fact-check”.

She added that a fake news button might soon be added alongside the “like” button on the platform.

12.40 p.m. – 1.25 p.m.

A discussion on fact-checking, with Dubawa as an implementation platform, followed the Facebook-led session.

The session looked at Dubawa as a fact-checking tool, as well as the partnership with Paradigm Initiative and its benefits.

This session was facilitated by Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and Paradigm Initiative (PI).

Ebele Oputa, a Project Officer at the PTCIJ explained that Dubawa is basically a solution to the spread of misinformation and “in light of the previous discussion, fake news”.

She also said the platform’s focus is on the media and the individuals, adding that the other function of the platform is to train newsrooms on how to fact-check themselves.

Mr Sesan said the initiative came about due to the need for collaboration.

He said PI’s focus is currently on the 2019 elections component of Dubawa “as false information will fly around”.

“Though what would happen after 2019 is not certain”, Mr Sesan said the aim of the partnership is to get purveyors of fake news to use Dubawa as well.

1.40 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. – Networking and Lunch

3.00 p.m – Workshop on Digital Rights for Journalists.

Adeboye Adegoke introduced Digital Rights to journalists.

He described digital rights as, ”human rights online”.

He narrowed down the concept to two major subjects: Privacy Rights and Freedom; Opinion and Association Online.

Mr Adegoke said data privacy is a fundamental right that is not ”culturally respected in Nigeria”.

Less than 20 countries in Africa have data privacy laws, ”Nigeria is not among them,” he said. ”There is a data protection bill that has not yet been passed into law,” he adds.

In response to the nation’s security challenges, he said mass biometric data capture requires attention.

On expression, opinion and association online, he said bloggers and journalists have become targets of cybercrime laws across Africa.

“The right to freely express independent opinion must be respected. Some governments are using shutdowns of the internet to attack this fundamental right,” he said.

3.50 p.m.

Digital Tools for Journalists- Hassan Abdul

Mr Hassan, in his presentation said digital tools can help journalists report the news faster and with greater accuracy.

He said part of the problems affecting the use of these tools by journalists is that, ”there are too many tools”.

He advised journalists to start with the simplest tools. He said these are simple to use and ”impact your news gathering, production and publishing processes”.

A tool for news gathering, he highlighted was ”multi-searching for discovery of breaking and developing stories across social media and within your browser”.

For verification of such news, he recommended Dubawa, Google Reverse Image, YouTube Data Viewer, InVID, as effective tools.

4.22 p.m.

After the Workshop, a question and answer session commenced whereby journalists asked questions on digital rights.

When a participant asked for tools journalists can use to stay safe online, Emmanuel Okochu from CC Hub directed journalists to a Digital Security Guide for Journalists on www.safeonline.ng.

Koliwe Majama, a Zimbabwean journalist speaking on tips on how to handle 2019 elections said based on the Zimbabwean experience, most times, the law enforcement agencies do not understand the work of the media ”so it is important to engage them and let them know the function of the media”.

On the question of the possibility of internet shutdown, PI representative and Research Officer, Babatunde Okunoye said the more civil society organisations start advocacies ”if such should happen”, the less likely for the government to shut down the internet.

5. 21 p.m. – Closing Remarks

Sodiq Alabi, a communications officer at PI gave the closing remarks and thanked everyone for attending.

He also informed the participants of the continuation of the event on Wednesday.

*** The Internet Freedom Forum started on Tuesday, 24th and will continue till Thursday 26th April, 2018.

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