As 8 May draws closer, many experts are raising awareness on how different social media threats can have a negative influence on the elections.

Experts say it is important for social media users to be able to verify legitimate information versus disinformation, as the latter can be used to influence the electorate.

Media Monitoring Africa project manager, Sarah Findlay says bot networks or fake accounts pose a huge threat to any election as seen in the recent French and 2016 US presidential election.

Watch Sarah Findlay’s interview below for more:

Another expert, United Kingdom Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham says information from citizen’s data can be used without their knowledge to influence their decisions during elections. She says they have learnt a lot from the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook case – labeling it the biggest data breach case they have ever dealt with.

Watch Elizabeth Denham’s interview below for more:

The process of using your personal data to influence you to sway your vote otherwise is a simple process. Data analysts can collect data using algorithms, to look at the content you are mostly interested in, and they can in turn target you with information that might be contrary to what you are aligned with. This is similar to the tactics used during the 2016 US presidential election.

Solutions to combating these new threats to elections

Findlay says one of their solutions for disinformation and fake news is available to use for the public.

Watch Sarah Findlay below on their solution to combat fake news:

Denham says electoral bodies and other stakeholders need to work closely if they are to combat these rogue elements.

Watch more of Elizabeth Denham’s interview below:

 

The Electoral Commission is working closely with media bodies like Sanef and Media Monitoring Africa to deal with disinformation on social media leading up to the 2019 National and Provincial elections.

Electoral Commission chairperson, Glen Mashinini urges parties to respect the media: