WhatsApp Main Conveyer of Fake News – Nation Group Editor

Written by: 
Specioza Kajumba

Social media especially WhatsApp is the main disseminator of fake news in Uganda today, according to Carol Beyanga, the head Digital platforms at Nation Media Group.

While making a presentation today at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala, Beyanga said there are two kinds of fake news including disinformation and miss-information. She described disinformation as deliberate false news and miss-information as unintentional news which is false.

Beyanga was speaking at the opening ceremony of Uganda Media Week.

She said fake news isn't something new to Uganda, noting that the concept dates back more than 10 years ago. She hinted on the reasons why false news travels very fast today among which are that it is good for gossip and that fake news appeals to people’s biases on certain issues. It is these biases that make recipients of fake news do their best to spread it further.

As a way to counter fake news, Beyanga said it is important for a journalist to follow the trail of the sources of the news to where the news is coming from. She noted that verification is key in regulating fake news, adding that in case an entertainment reporter shared a story on politics, the editor should take the initiative to verify the story.

She said that even a credible media platform can also share fake news, the journalists should look out for those small but important markers like correct spellings of names and use Google reverse image to verify the images and when exactly the images were used.

Beyanga concluded her presentation by asking the journalists to always apologize to the audience in case of the fake stories.

Charity Ahimbisibwe of Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU) also said that there should be a merger between mainstream media and online media. She said this would help counter the challenge of fake news since both will have a common language. She said journalists should entirely base their stories on facts, adding that a reporter must be an observer who looks out for truth.

John Okeya, a third year student at Makerere University, said that there is fake news today because some media are diverting from their initial role of informing society and are turning to making money in form of increasing followers through spreading fake news.

Namakula Fatuma, a second student at Makerere, said that as a way of countering fake news, journalists should try as much as possible to back their stories with clear evidence like pictures and facts.


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