Social media giant, Facebook has discounted suggestions that shutting down social media on elections day is the solution to any threat of civil unrest and election related violence in Ghana.
The debate has generated considerable heat following its subtle acceptance by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) John Kudalor.
The police communications department has assured it will be the measure of last resort.
But speaking at a public forum on ‘Media, Hate Speech and Peaceful Elections in Ghana’ organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in partnership with EIB Network’s Election Hub, Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for Africa objected to the plan of shutting down social media.
She suggested to the police service to occupy itself with finding credible means of countering hate speech and rumours with credible information.
He believes social media is a reflection of life and that shutting it down will deprive people of relevant information.
‘Politics is the number one topic people talk this is relevant worldwide but this is also true for Ghana specifically, politics is what people talk about when they mount the platforms, they talk to their friends, family members and other comrades…as to the issues and real issues and questions discussed across during elections, …and we have heard before some people think that the solution is if there is hate speech happening on the platform lets shut it down, the solution is not to shut is down, the reality is that social media is a reflection of the real world, what happens on social media is the reflection of all the great wonderful things people do, the entrepreneurial thing, innovative thing, text, the solution is not to shut it down, because guess what these conversations are still taking place, people have hateful things to say because they don’t get the platforms to talk, even more important is you may counter these hateful speeches said,’ she explained.
The forum which took place on Wednesday formed part of the MFWA’s Campaign Language Monitoring project and EIB’s Elections Hub Project aimed at promoting issue-driven and peaceful elections in Ghana.
The forum featured both local and international speakers including Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for Africa, Emmanuel Mugisha, Executive Secretary of Rwanda Media Commission and Kabral Blay-Amihere, Past Chair, National Media Commission.
Participants were drawn from the media, political parties, elections experts, academia, civil society, government representatives, members of the diplomatic community and the public.
EIB NETWORK’s ELECTION HUB PROJECT combines cutting edge media technologies and ‘A’ rated seasoned broadcasters including content management team in providing compelling comprehensive and credible coverage of elections 2016 across its over 10 media properties online, radio, television, print, events nationwide with footprints in the sub region.
The public forum was implemented with funding support from OSIWA, STAR-Ghana, France Embassy in Ghana and the EU (through Socioserve-Ghana).