iLab Liberia, Partner Launch Fact Checking Website -To Tackle Disinformation In 2023 Elections

By Stephen G. Fellajuah

MONROVIA: As stakeholders synergize to combat the possible proliferation of disinformation  as well as build the capacity of Liberians to counter and mitigate disinformation before, during and after the ensuing general elections,  Innovative Lab-Liberia and its partners on Thursday, August 10, 2023 launched a web based fact checking set up called Fact Check Liberia with the view that it will go a long way to address some of the major issues associated with the negative tendencies to mislead the public.

According to the initiators, the website which contains comment and suggestion columns for the public to make input about its contents, will serve as a premium platform for citizens across the country to get firsthand factual information about the 2023 general elections and other vital information throughout its lifespan.

“It seeks to provide Liberians with access to correct and verified versions of fake news, and or misleading information that is being spread to the public on the radio, social media, internet, and across communities basically in Nimba and Montserrado counties and as well as other parts of Liberia.

Giving an overview, iLab-Liberia Country Director, Albert Luogon said Fact-Check will serve as an important milestone in the implementation of countering “Disinformation in Liberia 2023 Election Project” with the aim of improving Liberia’s information environment by making citizens aware of the harms and dangers of disinformation in elections and how to mitigate its impact on the society.

“Its overall goal is to ensure information integrity in the country’s electoral and democratic systems, ensuring Liberians have a democratic process void of misinformation and disinformation and violent free elections.” Lougon stated

He further revealed that the website is a pilot project for 14 months in Montserrado and Nimba Counties, with the purpose to identify influencers of disinformation and misinformation, adding  “ the objective is engaging stakeholders in roundtable discussions by creating mass citizens’ awareness, conducting fact-checking training, establishing stakeholders’ networks, and routinely fact-checking claims and reporting verified content on the website”.

“Today’s unveiling of the website is one of several important phases of the project that iLab and its partners have implemented since March 2023. In the last six months, we have carried out stakeholder engagement meetings in Nimba and Montserrado counties with positive feedback. Additionally, there have been Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), disinformation awareness workshops, and fact-checking training in Montserrado.”

“Stakeholders who have participated in these activities have already learned how to effectively identify influencers of disinformation and misinformation, their mediums, tactics, and targeted audiences. They have also learned how to track online hate speeches and violence against women in politics.”

Going further, he added that the fact checking body participated in a study mission during the Sierra Leonean elections and hosted the first regional conference confronting disinformation and hate speech in Monrovia and that the conference brought together Civil Society Organizations countering disinformation across Africa and they collectively discussed methods and approaches used to address contextual disinformation issues on the continent.

“The unveiling of this website today is a major milestone for iLab and partners. It gives us confidence that together we can defeat this menace called disinformation and improve the information environment in our society.”, he said

It can be recalled, early April this year, iLab signed a 14-month sub-grant contract with the National Democratic Institute to implement the Countering Disinformation in Liberia 2023 Election Project. The Project, which is expected to be rolled out beyond the 2023 general elections, is funded by the Government of Canada.

“With the launching of this website, the public is encouraged to click this link www.factcheckliberia.info to access factual, credible, reliable, and verified information about the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia. By following this simple instruction, you will do your country a great deal by telling others about your own experience on how to dispel misinformation and disinformation in the elections and society in general.

i-Lab Liberia is a non-profit local tech hub that provides access to information, open and geospatial data, research, web technologies, and expert ICT assistance through a community of volunteers leveraging technology for the good of Liberia. Founded in 2011, it has developed local solutions through global standards while serving partners ranging from government, private sector & development actors.

This civil tech innovative enterprise supports development actors, civil society organizations and local businesses by integrating tech to enhance their services.

Meanwhile, ilab also works closely with the Governments on technology initiatives that promote access to information, peace, security, elections, health emergencies, Open governance, climate change, research, data collection while developing platforms and systems for anti-corruption, accountability and the rule of law. Since its establishment, we iLab Liberia built the capacity of hundreds of Liberian youths, some of whom have been gainfully employed with private and public institutions.

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