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A VIEW OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ELECTIONS

As the world evolves, people have tried many efforts to make it more interactive and much engaging than it used to be. As inventions had taken place in the past, many tools for communication have been made readily available to us.

As these inventions are expected to keep us informed and better of as a society, we sometimes get informed wrongly. Just as people are making efforts to provide us with authentic and credible news, others are equally making efforts to sway attention and to report untruths to others.

Just as the virtual nature of some of these platforms creates an artificial world with the intention of making it appear real, others are deeply aware of their offer of anonymity and make use of these tools for the wrong reasons.

Technology has made the creation and dissemination of information much easier. Unlike was the case when one must procure expensive equipment to print and report news, the phenomenon is much easier today. With the acquisition of mobile phones and computers which are relatively cheaper than the equipment required to report and disseminate news, citizens who have acquired no training in news making are able to make and report news.

This has made the verification and authentication of news a much herculean task. One is enjoined to go behind the screens to verify the authenticity of news created and carried on these tools that have become available.

The news making process which can be simplified to include assessing, processing and disseminating of news has become easier and in the hands of many unqualified individuals. The difference in the process is that, the one who has acquired training in news making is guided by some tenets. Ethical issues are much appreciated by those individuals in their reportage although some continue to go without regards to their professional dictates.

Social media has become one such tools of communication that offers a free world for the conveyance of anything so long as the writer can put something together or attempt to share content by others. News is created without regards to their potential to hurt the sensibilities of others.

This medium has become a mix bag of information leaving readers with a high sense of discretion to decipher news and to make valued judgements to ascertain their authenticity and eventual effects.

As an active social media person, on many occasions, I have received creations from persons who wish to verify the truth or otherwise of some information. With my training, I need no efforts to distinguish between truthful publications and publications that can be classified as “yellow”.

In the political world, and especially as elections approach, anything and everything has an impact. The possibility of people believing any creation and not having any opportunity of assessing the truth a couple of months before an election is high.

This raises fear on how information would be carried out on an election day in my country. As the social media platforms have become important and powerful tools for the dissemination of news, something has to be done to ensure this medium does not do more harm than the good it is meant for.

It is interesting the controversies the suggestion of shutting down the medium on an election day if it becomes the only option generated. It appeared we did not assess the impact of these medium before taking positions against what the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr John Kudalor suggested.

It appears we have not taken note of the effect of these platforms in the infamous Arab Spring a couple of years ago. The mobilisation abilities of these media has made it an irresistible tool to watch.

It is easy for any reader to assume the writer of this article to be undemocratic. But the reality is far from that. A democratic world is a world in which every individual would have the liberty to go about his or her business without hindrance. Would such liberties be guaranteed in a nation where a state of emergency is declared?

Would such liberties be demanded in a country at war when the state has taken all the powers off us on matters of security and has taken the country down to protect lives and properties? That is where we must tackle this issue from.

It has become an increasing phenomenon that news created over times like this as we approach elections in Ghana are meant to sway public opinion to or from a particular political party and this is rife between the two main contenders into the elections.

Jurisdictional monitoring would be an important tool to employ under this situation. It is not surprising that even some advanced countries took steps to restrict access to this medium on election days just so they can control information that goes out.

A deliberate skew of information to the victory of the wrong candidate has the tendency of sparking violence in this country. Our practice of democracy and its associated liberties and freedoms must not be considered to be in isolation. Liberties are better guaranteed and exercised in a peaceful country.

Ghana is a beautiful country. We require our liberties in our democracy. Safeguarding our lives remain paramount to us. Our means of interaction must be devoid of tendencies that would cause havoc to our very existence. We must collectively strive for what would guarantee our self-advancement within the structures we have defined as a nation.

Our media contents must reflect truth that is verifiable. We can make or unmake our country by our actions on the virtual platforms if we assume the anonymity it provides would served as cover for us. Let us remain responsible and condemn those who deliberately mislead us and avoid getting to the point where these beautiful interactive sites would be closed to us.

ASK/Ghanapoliticsonline.com

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