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Opinions of Friday, 14 December 2018

Columnist: Gad Ocran

Social media and fake news

Gad Ocran is the social media education director for eazzysocial Gad Ocran is the social media education director for eazzysocial

It could be recalled that a female blogger who represents was embarrassed on live television specifically UTV for allegedly publishing a fake story about Kumawood actor Kwadwo Nkansah a.k.a Lil Win.

The action or inaction of the blogger in question became the talk of Ghana not only on social media but traditional media in reference to fake news and its effect in our contemporary world.

Using the female blogger as a lesson, we all thought that people will be enlightened on the effect of fake news and its impact on the society and especially media personnel will take a clue from it, however, same error has been repeated by UTV - fake news reportage.

Thus, UTV on November 12, 2018 during their evening bulletin carried a fake news found on the Facebook page belonging to ‘Aljazeera - West Africa’.The information reads;

“Paul Kagame on Ghana's decision to use drones for medical delivery. I think Ghanaians have a huge problem with getting what makes sense and what doesn't! And by this I am not saying my country is the best or i am the best president in Africa but for a country that lacks common ambulances and rather spending on expensive drones is just an inexcusable corrupt means of draining the country's money. Its very sad to see a fellow country acting without reasoning."

A move that has caused Ghana’s Ministry of Information to come out to condemn the information and label it as fake and shouldn't be taken with all seriousness!

Well, as a social media business consultant and lecturer, my interest is not to judge the actions or inactions of the television station in question even though I feel some level of unprofessionalism carried out.

However, my motive is to express my candid opinion on how traditional media houses sourcing information from social media can operate without being a carrier of fake information. Below are two things traditional media houses can do to prevent falling victims to such situation.

1. Establishing a digital or social media creative newsroom:

The function of a creative newsroom is to help editors, social media community or account managers, journalists or writers and content or information designers (graphic and video designer) to creatively come up with timely and relevant information of editorial interest to suit the needs of each social media platform eg. YouTube (Video) Instagram (Pictures) and more importantly its audience.

This will involve the media house coming out with a clear game plan on how to distribute each information using the paid (those that needs to be promoted), influencers (public figures with large following, social media outreach army, and on-air personalities with huge social media following and engagement) if the need be and timely sharing on their social media platforms.

2.Command Center:

The social media command center will be a dedicated area in the social media creative newsroom that will primarily house social media account managers so they can monitor and engage in conversations of editorial interest as well as trending topics.

It allows real time monitoring of information trends on social media that can inform editorial decisions and make sure that at all times the media house is on top of what happens on social media. Path of successfully operating a command center for traditional media houses is to have content curation policy or qualification framework for news identified or collected to make sure information collected is credible, the source is trustworthy and of utmost editorial interest.

In a nutshell the command center provides the following benefits to traditional media houses;

a. Staying connected with news: it helps traditional media houses to monitor conversations about happenings and events on social media at all times.

b. Getting scoop or breaking news: by using a command center means you are on the path of being the first known when something happens around a particular topic or key of editorial interest.

c. Give editors a quick glance of the days trending topics and issues on social media and to help shape stories or narratives about those topic or stories.

Finally, fake news is a form of terrorism and as such we should all discourage and educate our friends and families to desist from sharing untrue information that threatens the peace of the society or destroys one another.

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