The National Media Commission (NMC) is working with the telecommunication companies and other stakeholders to devise a mechanism to check the abuse of social media platforms on election day, without necessarily restricting people from accessing the platforms
The commission held a meeting with the telecom companies and the other stakeholders which include the Council of State, Media Foundation for West Africa, Australian High Commission, British High Commission, and a representative from the office of the National Chief Imam to deliberate on the mechanism.
Briefing the media after the meeting, the Chairman of NMC, Kwesi Gyan Apenteng, said the NMC held a two-day public forum with stakeholders on the decision to check the abuse of the platforms, while giving the public unfettered access.
While acknowledging the relevance of social media in creating the platform for the public to participate in the political process and engage policy makers directly, he said the forum also identified that people could use the platform to create fake messages that could disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the country.
“That freedom that we enjoy in our Constitution comes with the need for responsibility,” he said and added that “because of the unmediated access to social media, we should create conditions to minimise the use of the platforms to spread information that can cause ethnic and religious violence”
Although deliberation on the supposed mechanism is yet to be completed, he said the mechanism would give people the opportunity to report any sensitive information that had security implications so that such information would be permanently blocked from the social media platforms.
He said the mechanism to check the abuse of the social media platform would not restrict anyone from using the platform and would be implemented in accordance with the Constitution and international best practices.
“Citizens must have access to all kinds of media. We are not saying we should stop using social media but we want people to use good communication. Social media has enabled more people to communicate directly with policy makers,” he stressed.
Mr. Gyan-Apenteng said if anyone reported any material on the platform that could cause problems, access to that material would be blocked and prevented from being shared and added that the telecom companies had expressed the commitment to help build such a mechanism to ensure a peaceful election.
“ At this point, we have agreed on the broad principle. We know that technology can fail but the telecom companies have indicated that they will do their best to ensure that the technology does not fail,” he said and noted that more information on the mechanism would be made public when the deliberation is completed.
By Yaw Kyei