The IEC in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme in South Africa will on Monday host a conference for African election management bodies on the impact of social media on the integrity of elections. The three-day conference will be held in Cape Town.

From an electoral democracy point of view; social and digital media have been game changers for all stakeholders, including electoral management bodies, political parties, candidates and voters themselves. Despite it having allowed people to have access and share information instantly, it has also opened up room for misinformation.

IEC Vice Chairperson Janet Love says the conference is for the exchange of ideas by different election management bodies on how to properly use and manage social media during elections.

“I think a lot of people in this country are a lot more sensitive to issues of disinformation and the fact that social media has a huge potential to enable people to express views and exchange information. In the continent, this is not something that is the experience of us (South Africans) alone; it’s experienced all over in the continent. Different election management bodies want to come together to exchange views, to lessons and to try and go forward to see how we can improve things, manage things better, but also to figure out some of the threats and risks that we need to attend to before we go forward.”

Love says there are a number of measures that have been tabled on how to combat the trend of fake news during election processes.

“I think there are a number of measures that have already been put on the table and some of them are in place. These include for example within the international sphere, there are a number of voluntary practices that the different platforms have associated themselves with. In South Africa in our last elections, we had internet service providers agree, also on a voluntary basis, to assist the Electoral Commission to ensure that serious abuse was dealt with in a way that was a lot more effective.”

In the video below, IEC Vice Chairperson Janet Love