UCC launches fact-checking initiative to defeat Fake News on Online Media

UCC Boss, Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo (FILE PHOTO)

Kampala – Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has on Monday, April 13, rolled-out a campaign to combat the circulation of fake information on communication channels.

In a statement issued this afternoon (Monday), the regulator weighed in on new technology highlighting the advantages and disadvantages and also prompted the dangers posed by electronic communication platforms.

“Their tremendous benefits notwithstanding, electronic communication networks have facilitated increased production and sharing of false, offensive and illegal content,”

Under the stewardship of Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, UCC cautioned content creators using the digital information space to share fake news and mislead masses would be brought to book,

“Unscrupulous content creators have taken advantage of the digital information age to publish and distribute “disinformation” and so-called “fake news” – new forms of propaganda intentionally designed to mislead the reader,” Eng. Kaggwa noted.

The regulator noted that there has been a surge in false information online, taking advantage of people’s fears and anxiety about COVID-19, citing that misleading information purporting to be useful tips going viral,

“Claims, such as holding your breath as a method to test for the virus, or that gargling salt or liquor to prevent infection, among others, were unofficial and unproven information that put the lives of unsuspecting members of the public at serious risk,” Eng. Kaggwa Sewankambo stressed 

“Disinformation is often not a mistake but rather deliberate creation and sharing of false or manipulated information with the intent to deceive and mislead audiences, either to cause harm or for political, personal or financial gain,” UCC boss asserting cautioning those involved to stay warned.

The Commission, through its UgCERT (Computer Emergency Response Team), re-affirmed their commitment to fighting against the spread of “fake news” in line with its mandate to set standards, monitor and enforce compliance relating to the content.

In collaboration with different Government authorities and agencies, the Commission will work to protect members of the public from false, misleading and thus potentially dangerous information. Research has shown that the more a claim is repeated, and shared, the more likely it is to be believed. Accordingly, over the coming months, the UgCERT team will fact-check suspicious information and push sources of false claims to correct the record.

Deep in our hearts, we all hope that our beliefs are based on facts, rationality, and a nuanced balance of conflicting perceptions of reality. The desire to validate our beliefs is so strong that we tend to see only the evidence that confirms or reinforces our core views. Nevertheless, in public discourse, facts are frequently evoked as stable foundations to refer to in times of need.

Therefore, the public is advised to be vigilant and to exercise due diligence by verifying the authenticity of any news stories or reports from unofficial sources before believing and acting on them. A request to check a piece of information can be sent to 0791 847 828 (Whatsapp); Email: factcheck@ucc.co.ug; Blog: https://ug-cert.ug/fake-news/ for verification and fact-checking.

Lastly, individuals who deliberately create, publish and distribute “fake news” are warned to desist from the habit as it is a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 2011 and other laws.

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