Denouncing mis- dis- and mal-information / hate and hate speech
The democratization of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Cameroon has greatly facilitated access to information and its corollary, freedom of expression. This has improved the production of information by actors who do not often possess the technical, ethical and professional know-how. This is also influenced by the intrinsic nature of the internet, and social media in particular. Access to and use of ICTs evolve in the absence of a standardized restrictive, regulatory and legal framework which can considerably limit the ability of an internet user to influence the information, socio political and security agenda of community or a state (#AFFCameroon).
Disinformation, hate speech, and stigmatization speech online and even in mainstream media are very much in the news. According to François-Bernard Huyghe, very often behind the fake information are hidden media strategies aimed at manipulating public opinion and serving the interests of its instigators. This is done with the objective of either weakening a state, or (in a logic of economic competitiveness) of hampering the competition; or it may also aim at tarnishing the image or reputation of an individual and projects/programs (#AFFCameroon).
Given this situation, #defyhatenow initiated the Africa Fact-Checking Fellowship, a program that aims to train media practitioners in online fact-checking and hate speech detection. The goal is to create a critical mass of fact-checkers and information defenders to curb online and offline hate speech and digital rights advocates by making use of a wider audience such as public and private organizations/institutions.
Thus, the first meeting of the African Fact-Checking Fellowship took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 18–19 November 2022. Over 150 fellows met for the conference, while guests from state ministries, private institutions and civil society organizations were all present to give their support to the initiative and better still push the vision of the #defyhatenow initiative forward. Present at the ceremony was the co-founder of the r0g_agency and #defyhatenow initiative, The Minister of Communication, the European Union Ambassador to Cameroon, and the Country Project Manager #defyhatenow_WCA / President of Civic Watch.
Global Hand Cameroon was honored to attend this conference and plans to incorporate these concepts into its classroom programs with school children.