Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia say it is deeply concerned with the circulation of unverified and at times fake news on online media which have the potential to cause chaos and negatively impact on individual citizens lives.
MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale noted with concern the reports that have come from the Copperbelt and other areas across the country of citizens that have been attacked by suspected criminals and further speculation around the same that have been spread through social media.
“We are also concerned with the misuse of social media by people with vested interests to harm the reputation of others while using pseudo names online,” Ms. Mwale said.
She noted that despite the major role social media plays in enabling citizens to further share news and other breaking stories in real time, members of the public should desist from spreading falsehoods as this has the potential to cause panic and alarm.
Ms. Mwale said: “This platform should instead be used to correctly inform the public and to further constructive debate and dialogue on topical issues affecting the people.”
She urged citizens to ‘always’ seek to verification and authenticate news that they come across as this helps responsible authorities effectively act on it and also help other citizens make informed decisions.
Ms. Mwale also appealed to the government through the Ministries responsible to continue engaging the media through issuance of press statements and holding of press briefings promptly as citizens rely on official channels of communication from the government.
She further called on government to hasten the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) bill to deter fake news and circulation of untruthful information.