African electoral bodies are meeting in South Africa this week to explore the risks and rewards social media poses to elections.
The four-day conference in Cape Town, organised by the Electoral Commission of South Africa in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, brings together from around Africa and beyond, to share experiences in how to maximise the benefits and mitigate the risks of social media to ensure electoral integrity on the continent.
Thirty-four African election management bodies are expected to attend the conference with speakers from New York, London, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Johannesburg.
“The growth and increasing popularity of social media has brought with it great benefits to electoral democracy including the rapid, convenient and cost-effective distribution of information to the electorate by political parties, candidates and election management bodies,” said South Africa’s chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo.
“Social media has become an integral part of almost all aspects of elections in most modern democracies – including in voter registration, political campaigning and sharing of information regarding the election process, outcomes and results.”
“But these very qualities which give social media its profound power and impact also carry with it grave risks to the integrity of the electoral process. Unfortunately we have witnessed examples of the potential negative influence on election integrity from disinformation, and data manipulation across democracies around the world including in Africa,” Mamabolo added.
South African home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi was scheduled to address the conference on its first day on Monday.
Source: African News Agency (ANA)