In a bid to promote the peaceful conduct of Ghana’s 2016 general elections, Penplusbytes under its African Elections Project (AEP) and with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is rolling out the “Ghana Elections 2016: Social Media Monitoring for Peaceful Elections” Project.
The project aims at deploying cutting edge ICT enabled tools as early warning systems to track potential elections irregularities on social media. Running from 1st June 2016 to 30th November 2016, its main objectives include advocating for issue-based elections through political campaign fact-checking, as well as promoting peaceful, transparent and credible elections in Ghana through election related social media trend monitoring and information sharing.
Penplusbytes under this project will, in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, establish a Social Media Tracking Center (SMTC) that will employ Aggie; a social media monitoring software to detect election irregularities, logistics problems, fraud, and potential violence reported on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Ushahidi, SMS and Google+.
Part of the project’s activities would also be the sharing of incident reports in real-time with the Electoral Commission, National Elections Security Task Force (NESTF), Ghana Police, other Elections Management bodies and key stakeholders for immediate action.
This year, Ghana’s democratic credentials will be put to test as the nation braces up for what is widely predicted to be the most keenly contested elections in history. With this expectation comes a heightened sense of caution against acts and practices that have the potential to plunge the country into chaos before, during and after the general elections. There has therefore come a need for civil society and all key stakeholders to channel efforts into ensuring Ghana emerges from the elections unscathed and remains a beacon of democracy in the region.
Penplusbytes under the AEP first successfully implemented the Social Media Monitoring Project in 2012 providing 24-hour social media coverage during the elections using social media monitors, supervisors, verifiers, and analysts.
Outlining the ideals of the project, Jerry Sam, Director of Programmes at Penplusbytes, said “Having successfully deployed this project in 2012, we believe social media has become a significant part of the Ghanaian communication culture with immense influence and impact, reason for which mounting virtual surveillance has become as equally important as physical ones. From the Arab spring to the next terrorism recruit, the conversation is now happening online hence our commitment to establishing this system to track and address in quick time, red flags, flash points and other indicators that may threaten the smooth conduct of the 2016 elections.”
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower the media through the use of Information and Communications Technology to advance journalism in the coverage of governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and mining, oil and gas.