Cape Town – The impact of social media on the integrity of elections will come under the spotlight at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from Tuesday.
The conference, ending on Friday, will be attended by commissioners and senior executives from more than 34 African election management bodies.
Speakers and panellists have been drawn from around the world, including New York, London, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Maputo and Tunis.
Themed “Safeguarding Electoral Integrity in the Digital Age: Strategies for Combating Digital Disinformation”, the conference brings together experts in social media and elections from around Africa and beyond to share experiences in harnessing the benefits and mitigating the risks of social media.
It is hosted by the Electoral Commission of South Africa,
in partnership with UNDP South Africa.
The IEC said social media had become a powerful tool for democracy, offering both benefits and challenges to all stakeholders.
“If you look at the 2019 national and provincial elections, most of the time we were running around about issues that we picked up on social media. In some worst scenarios they would be taking images of past elections and posting them as images of these elections,” said IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela.
She said electoral management bodies needed to collaborate on efforts around social media to avoid high levels of disinformation.
“This conference is also in preparation for the 2020 municipal elections. Out of this conference, we aim to come up with guidelines on how to manage the social media space.
“We are already partnering with a number of organisations to make sure that not only South Africans - but people who interact with electoral management - are aware of anything that would compromise the integrity of the election.
"We have done work with Media Monitoring Africa on the 2019 election to make sure we deal with disinformation,” said Bapela.
For more conference information including the programme, visit http://www.elections.org.za/SEIDA2020/