INEC in talks with Meta—Official

Victor Aluko, Director of Voter Education and Publicity at the Independent National Electoral Commission, has stated that the commission is in discussions with Meta management to find ways to combat fake news. 

Aluko made the remarks at the launch event for 'Run Am,' a Rise Networks artificial intelligence application designed to serve as a fake news verification app for the 2023 elections, which are now only about 33 days away. 

The INEC director stated that the commission had also sought ways to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation, and that the organization was grateful for its initiative to join the fight against the spread of fake news. 

"Only yesterday in the office, we were having a meeting with Meta, who is now in charge of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, about this issue of how we can combat all these fake posts, all those things that tend to undermine the electoral process. All of the issues are handled by my department, voter education and publicity. 

"There was a time when an entire INEC press release sheet was cloned. When I read the press release, I assumed it was true. It was signed by my commissioner, who usually signs releases. And when he looked at the signature, he said, 'This is my signature, but I didn't release this'. And we needed to respond right away. 

"We are going to what we call, possibly, let me just use that term, the mother of elections, a very serious election, that will be contested seriously by very powerful parties and individuals, more than anytime in the history of our country. And now you will see a situation in which the electoral process will be pulled in different directions, resulting in a combination of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation. 

"And we are looking at how we are going to manage our results, to make sure that people don't misinform Nigerians. So when we have an app like this from a reputable company like Rise Networks, we tend to identify with them." 

Aluko also asked for collaborations between the organization and the commission to combat fake news. 

Meanwhile, Mr Dayo Olajide, Deputy Director of the MacArthur Foundation, whose organization, along with the Center for Information, Technology, and Development, supported the project, said it was critical for citizens to take responsibility in exposing and holding fake news peddlers accountable. 

"Unless we begin to hold those who are managing our affairs to account, then this conversation about saving democracy might just be in their wish. What we're launching today, I believe, is a significant contribution to that effort, but it's not enough to simply expose misinformation; it's also not enough to expose the peddlers of misinformation. "I believe that the most important aspect of responsibility is that we begin to track those responsible and hold them accountable." 

Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, the Founder of Rise Networks, explained that the app had three features: one for verifying news reports, one for verifying images, and one for voter education. 

She went on to say that the app, which took a total of 20 months to develop and launch, would be upgraded to include local languages and Pidgin English so that ordinary Nigerians could take ownership of it, and that the 2023 elections would provide an opportunity to "prototype this project."

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