Proliferation of fake news harmful to nations – Elizabeth Ohene

General News of Thursday, 12 September 2019



play videoFormer Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Elizabeth Ohene

Former Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Elizabeth Ohene has bemoaned the adverse use of technology in churning out information to the public.

She says technology aside its role in facilitating news broadcast is being used by some people to publish false content, a phenomenon which she described as harmful not only to individuals but to nations.

“…Now the whole world knows what is happening as it is happening, but people have taken it further or backwards by creating their own news…I’m not sure how that works…they create something they purport to pass on as news.”

She continued that, “the danger that we face is if enough people, don’t care about content anymore, and we just allow technology to run away and people can just manufacture what they want, that’s when we will be in trouble”.

According to the veteran journalist, the false information spree if not checked may even go a long way to spark another world war.

She admonished Ghanaians and the media in particular to apply an appreciable level of critical thinking and adopt a habit of fact-checking before accepting the content of information as entirely true.

Ms Ohene cited the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and its subsequent reprisal attacks, as just a proportion of the deficits in using technology to share false information.

“…you know when the next world war starts, it will start with this kind of nonsense. Look at all the things you’re reading allegedly happening in South Africa, much of it is untrue but they put it together so realistically.”

Several videos and photos have been shared on social media these past few weeks about the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, but most of such content have been debunked as fake and not the appropriate depiction of the extent of damage caused by the xenophobic attacks.

Regardless of the insensitive acts of vilifying foreigners for no apparent reason, Ms Ohene in her remarks highlighted false information, otherwise known as fake news as a key player in stoking anger and tension in some African countries, leading to the reprisal attacks.

Ms Ohene was speaking at the maiden GJA 70th anniversary public lecture, under the theme, ‘Journalism yesterday and today: Repositioning median and technology’, September 10 2019.

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