The first fact-checking platform in The Gambia has been launched today. The new platform, Fact Check Gambia, tackles misinformation, disinformation and debunks fake news across traditional and online mediums.
The team of fact-checkers will verify claims that have gone viral or claim that are suspicious or too good to be true.
Fact-checking is still a new skill in Journalism but an increasingly important one- especially before, during, and after elections in an era of widespread misinformation and disinformation.
The spread of false information has become prevalent in the national political discourse, thus misleading Gambian citizens and threatening the country’s fragile peace and democracy. Without a doubt, no democracy can thrive unless citizens have the credible information they need to make informed decisions and choices.
Sang Mendy, the Managing Director of the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication. MAJac is also the manager of the fact check platform. He said every day, people make decisions– decisions that impact public health, human rights, development issues, business, and daily life.
He added that the impact of half-truths and misleading information could be life-threatening. It leads to misuse of funds, poor policymaking, and poor decision-making and sometimes sparks violence. Funnily, misinformation often spreads quicker than factual information.
The decision to equip journalists with the right tools to fact-check, set up a platform to publish verified claims, and give reporting grants to kick-start the platform is commendable and timely.
“We will do our utmost to ensure false claims, images, and videos meant to mislead the public are fact-checked and verified. In addition, we will partner with on and offline media platforms to amplify our verified content.”
Mr. Mendy said because Fact-Checking is painstaking. It requires thorough research, which requires funds. To maintain this platform after that, we need more partners locally and internationally to help sustain it. So
Modou Joof, who spoke on behalf of the President of The Gambia Press Union, said GPU is happy to be associated with establishing the team of fact-checking journalists and fact-checking platform with support from UNESCO.
“We are happy to see that our journalism training institute, MAJaC, is tasked with managing the fact check Gambia web portal.”
Mr. Joof added that verifying facts has always been a part of journalism practice, but it is even more important that this culture of verification is entrenched during elections.
Therefore, the GPU hopes that this fact-checking platform will contribute significantly to bringing about clarity in claims in the presidential and subsequent elections.