Letters: Don’t let fake news fake you out!

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Dear editor,

Fake news is so real and so pervasive that already rings disturbingly familiar to real news. Fake news or junk news or pseudo news. It’s the production and dissemination of false information meant to influence the direction of our people’s way of life by deluding anyone unsuspecting enough to swallow it. Real fake news is circulated by counterfeit activists, a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread and broadcast news media or online social media. Don’t let fake news, slacktivism and clicktivism fake you out!

To our thinking, it’s a matter of championing a healthy democratic process in The Gambia, if nothing else protecting a healthy cash cow. The Gambian people can and should do much to rid their services of malicious fake news sites, ‘attention seeking activists’, haters and trolls. A fetid stream of garbage had diluted the quality of honest debates in our political climate in a time of post-truth discourse, in practice, undermines the intellectual values of our democracy. Bad for our emergent democracy. Fake news is doing great harm!! Beware of Slacktivism, clicktivism, and real social change

If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what not true, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments, lies, misinformation, double speak, half-truth and propaganda, then we have problems. May be the cure begins with a new challenge of civic education, common sense and political maturity. Facebook, Facebook Watch Party, Facebook Live Show! WhatsApp, WhatsApp! Social media has been drowning in fake news increasingly serving the needs of authoritarians and their allies as well as power addict politicians. Social media, once seen as a profoundly democratic technology, activists of both sorts benefit from spreading falsehood about their opponents, ginning up panics about minority groups, and undermining people’s trust in the independent media.

In Gambian politics, during dictatorship and in our evolving democracy proved social media is a perfect tool for this activity, often aimed at undermining political leaders and decent people. Social media and fake have rotting our democracy from within, enable so-called activist to undermine our democracy. A share of the fake news and misinformation was blamed on a sophisticated propaganda campaign by dishonest people. What role, if any, it played in the fight against dictatorship and in our nascent democracy is unknown, but the risk it holds for democracy is clear.

Democracy relies to a significant extent on a public well enough informed to make wise decisions about its own government. If those decisions are based on misinformation purposely created to skew the views of some portion of the electorate, then self -government begins to deteriorate. It’s a scary thought, especially given some of the fake news spread in recent times: The fake news, fake doctored videos circulating on social media. Who believes this stuff? Sadly, there is an open market for the preposterous. It’s not hard to find people who believe even the most absurd stories, if the stories support their own prejudices. The good news out of this is that, for people who want to, this pernicious trend is easy to counter.

First and for must, is to pay attention to that nagging question in the back of the head. This only works for those who take time to think, but it’s effective. Be doubtful, even -may be especially, of convenient information that supports your worldview. If something seems unlikely or too ‘good’ to be true, check it out.

Second, adopt the journalistic code and insist upon corroboration. If your mother says she loves you, get a second source. The difference between real and fake news. Real news is reported by professionals with a commitment to accuracy and objectivity. It is checked and edited. Time and money are put into the serious work of providing information that is factual and valuable. It’s meant to inform, not to manipulate. It’s hazardous trend for any democracy that intends to sustain itself. Social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, need to combat a practice that is bad for them and worst for the country.

What is more important, Gambians must learn how to distinguish between what is real and what is fake news, misinformation and propaganda at this crucial stage of our transition to democracy. It’s very fragile. When people make their choice on any candidate or any party based on false information, they and the country that relies on them are being abused. That is dangerous to go unchallenged.

Alagi Yorro Jallow
USA

 

 

 

Let us stand against these scheming, hollow demagogues

Dear editor,

It is utterly sad and demoralizing to realize that our politics and governance have been reduced to demagoguery and sensible, smart and issue-based debates are crumbling under the weight of tribal sentiments before our eyes! This, however, is reinforced by the clear absence of a unified, fierce and uncompromising repudiation and condemnation of President Barrow behavior in office.

In mandating the President to tour the country at least twice in a year, section 223 (15) of the Constitution does not enjoin Barrow to meet a particular tribe or a region but to visit Gambians in all regions. For Barrow to defy or flout this Constitutional Provision barely two months to the end of the year and replace it with group meetings and including open tribal overtures constitute the single most imminent, real and dangerous threat to our country. If 34 months of Barrow’s presidency could get us to this polarizing moment with an even darker prospect for our country, should we be this naive, this self-defeating and this indifferent to let him further taint and ruin our country beyond 2021?

So, if Gambia means so much to us, if we value the unity and peace of our country, if we desire to change the dangerous political trajectory President Barrow is setting and if we are concerned about the future, welfare and prosperity of our fellow citizens, President Barrow should be stopped at the polls. Let us translate our disgust into massive mobilization and campaign efforts to deny Barrow the selfish chance to set our country ablaze on tribal lines. We owe this to our country, to ourselves, to our people and to the future generation.

Zakaria Kemo Konteh
Queens, USA



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