‘Social Media, Fertile Ground for Propagation of Hate Speech, Extremism’
UN Peace, Development Adviser Says


By: Kebba AF Touray

Patrick McCarthy, Peace and Development Adviser, UN Resident Coordinator, has said that Social Media has become more fertilised space for the expression and propagation of hate, intolerance and extremism.

He said this while delivering an opening remark at the Media and Information Literacy workshop, organised by UNESCO and partners. He added that social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, are fertile space for the propagation of hate, intolerance and extremism.

He explained that the training is part of the UN Peace Building Fund Project, entitled ‘Young Men and Women’ as Stakeholders in ensuring peaceful democratic processes, and as advocates for the prevention of violence and hate speech.

The training is designed to equip the youth leaders with a range of competencies that would allow them to seek, critically evaluate and contribute to information both online and offline.

“This project seeks to address the institutional barriers that young people are face with and also support the strengthening of youth capacity for engagement and participation in governance and leadership, address the issue of hate speech counter fake news and misinformation,” he stated.

He reiterated that the strategic objective of the project is to enhance the participation in governance and peaceful democratic processes as well as strengthening the capacities of the young people as advocates against hate speech and as agents of conflict prevention.

“Media information literacy globally is recognised as educational area that needs to be promoted, particularly when aiming at building understanding between individuals from different religious and cultural backgrounds,” he added.

Mr. McCarthy told the youth leaders that competence in the media and information literacy will provide them with the know how to participate ethically in public debates, counter hate speech and also debunk fake news.

“Such skills are essential for constructive civic participation in a democratic process. The implementation of the training initiative is guided by three objectives namely, Enhance the understanding of youth on media and information literacy and its relevance to democracy and good governance, to build the skills of youth leaders in analysing media and media content and equip youth leaders with the know how the need to examine sponsored and un-sponsored media messages and their goals,” he concluded.

Caroline Anipah, Verification and Media Literacy Officer, said Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) is a media innovation and development think –tank, and expressed gratitude for being associated with the training.

“Information disorder is generally divided to three stands namely misinformation (inadvertent falsehood), disinformation (deliberate falsehood) and misinformation (truth intended to cause harm). Information disorder has been with us from the beginning of time, but what is new, is the evolution of technologies,” she said.

She added that this evolution allows misinformation disorder to spread quickly and faster, with often grave effects to individuals, businesses and democratic communities.

According to her, policy makers around the world over, are grappled with the question of how to crept information disorder, such as the regulation of the social media across Europe, the tweeter ban in Nigeria, and the shutting down of the internet on the eve of the Gambia’s 2016 Presidential Elections.

“But digital authoritarianism comes with a great cost, which free societies cannot afford. Supplied style approaches such as dictatorial policy that silences misinformation could also be recognised by political actors to silence truth and promote misinformation,” she alleges.

Mr. Omar Bah, Peace, Security and Justice Officer, National Youth Council, stated that considering The Gambia is emanating from the 22 years of dictatorial rule, it is time for the young people to take the lead in terms of harmonising the country’s democracy and peace.

“Young people are the back born of any developing nation, and at Gambian level, we have a youthful population. So, it is important we disseminate information that are relevant to peace building which can changed the narrative and the status quo in nurturing the country’s democracy,” he advised.

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