By Kruah Thompson
Stage Media, in collaboration with Local Voices and other Liberian fact-checkers, has officially launched the first-ever Fact-Check Network in Liberia.
Established in March 2023, the network aims to hold political party candidates, their followers, journalists, social media influencers, and citizens accountable for the information they disseminate, particularly leading to after the October 10th Presidential and Legislative Elections.
The launch took place on Friday, June 30, 2023, at Internews headquarters on 19th Street Sinkor, in Monrovia.
The senior advisor of USAID Liberia media activity at Internews, Jefferson T. Massah, stressed the significant work that the Liberia Fact-Checking Network has been undertaking since its establishment in March.
Recognizing the risks associated with misinformation during the electoral process, Mr. Massah said the network’s primary responsibility is to ensure integration of accurate information into the October elections.
“In addition to other tasks, the network will actively engage in fact-checking during the upcoming elections,” he stated.
He also emphasized that the task ahead is not possible without support, thus pleading for assistance from its international partners.
Mr. Massah believes that with the launch, Liberia’s media has taken a significant step forward, noting “The network aims to promote transparency, accountability, and combat misinformation, thus fostering a more informed electorate.”
Additionally, the head of secretariat of the Network and founder and executive director of Campaigners Against Misinformation
Tarweh Johnson, said the media is the best tool to strengthen and ensure democratic accountability.
Reading an open letter to political leaders in the country, he highlighted that social media is flooded with content aimed at promoting specific political agendas that are characterized by allegations and counterclaims, some of which reinforce ethnic, religious, and divisive messages, thereby instilling distrust among the people.
He further emphasized that it is a challenging time for fact-checkers, as disinformation is rampant on social media, with individuals intentionally spreading outright lies while evading regulatory measures.
Johnson stressed the importance of refraining from making false claims and disseminating biased information, even if misinformation and disinformation seem to benefit political campaigns.
He said it is crucial for individuals to exercise caution and refrain from engaging in personal prejudices when sharing information, cautioning that misinformation poses a significant threat to Liberia in the wake of the pending elections in October. Editing by Jonathan Browne