US ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, has insisted on the need of identifying and countering election misinformation.
As the ambassador explained, misinformation and disinformation are more than just online distractions; they have profound, harmful consequences on democracy.
Inaugurating a three day first Master Training of Trainers in view of upcoming local level elections, here today, he said, “False information influences opinions and undermines voters’ abilities to make informed political choices.” He was of the view that as election season was nearing in Nepal, it was crucial that everyone, especially first-time voters, were informed and empowered to identify and counter election misinformation.
According to him, misleading and hyper-partisan news coverage is nothing new during election cycles, but its proliferation across prominent online platforms in Nepal is alarming.
The ambassador expressed his hope that the training would help participants identify these threats through both online and offline tools and learn strategies useful to both avoid consuming questionable information and encountering it.
The training organised by the Nepal Voters Rights Forum aims to identify and curb election-related mis- and disinformation, it is said.
As the ambassador described, social media has become a main source of diverging information. As Nepal institutionalizes democratic processes through regular elections, it is imperative that young voters make informed choices by accessing credible information – and that means, amongst so many other things, parsing truths and detecting lies in their News Feeds.
Sharing his idea for encountering mis- or disinformation on social media, he was of the opinion of not amplifying it, refraining from sharing it and telling friends and families and the community to do the same.
“Free and fair elections are pivotal to Nepal’s governance,” he asserted, adding that it must guarantee that its elections are transparent, inclusive, and accountable to ensure a system that works for everyone, for generations to come.
He went on to say, “It is remarkable what Nepal has accomplished politically within a very short period of time. Within a single generation, Nepal has moved through massive political transitions that some countries take centuries to go through. Mis- and disinformation and widespread civic apathy can damage these amazing achievements and threaten Nepal’s and its friends’ ability to deliver real results that the Nepali people deserve.”
Stating that mis- and disinformation had consequences, sometimes even serious, he stressed on the need of containing them.
Source: National News Agency Nepal