Department of Communication Studies launches Media and Information Literacy Project: “Youth Media and Information Literacy and the 2020 General Elections”

The Department of Communication Studies, School of Information and Communication Studies, in partnership with DW Akademie and Penplusbytes, has  launched a “Media Information Literacy (MIL) and Elections Project” as the 2020 General Elections draws near. The project, dubbed “Youth Media and Information Literacy and the 2020 General Elections”, aims to educate the general population and in particular, young people, on the risks and implications of consuming and sharing misinformation in the run up to elections on December 7, 2020

Panelists who spoke during the virtual launch of the campaign, discussed media and information literacy, especially the increasing use of social media and its attendant challenges such as consumption and distribution of fake news. They expressed worry about the increasing consumption and dissemination of fake news – election-related misinformation and disinformation - on social media platforms and its attendant repercussions.

A lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr. Stephen Tindi quoted a study by DW Akademie that confirms that a large number of young people in Ghana, aged between 20 to 25 years, are able to access either online or traditional media.

He noted that the challenge youth face is the inability to critically analyse the content they are exposed to and interact with on a daily basis.To resolve this challenge, Mr. Tindi said the youth need to be equipped with the requisite tools and skills to methodically examine and understand the content they interact with.

Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean of School of Information and Communication, stated that social media has given both politicians and voters the power to easily share and exchange messages and information about issues they care about without having to go through traditional gatekeepers. The Dean noted that without gatekeepers, amateurs assume the role of professionals and are able to put out information that is disturbing and potentially dangerous to both the producers and consumers.

Despite the convenience social media brings, Prof. Gadzekpo expressed concern about the manipulation of images, doctoring of videos and dissemination of false information by politicians and political actors for political gain, especially in the election season.

Citing the example of the 2016 elections in the U.S.A, in which social media was used extensively, Prof. Gadzekpo underscored the need for an understanding of how media and information literacy is being used in the political space, to curtail the dangers associated with the wholesale consumption of political messages. 

On her part, Ms. Yvonne Amankwa, a student of the Department of Communication Studies, outlined some applications and tools that may be used to verify the truthfulness or otherwise of information and news being shared.  

She called on young people to fact-check information, scrutinize the sources used and compare the information with credible sources before accepting it as fact and sharing it.

She also warned the youth to desist from sharing fake news on social media to avoid tarnishing their reputation online.

The project has engaged various media personalities to put out the message about the do’s and don’ts regarding sharing of information, which is especially important in the days leading up to the elections.

Videos of their messages may be accessed and downloaded for sharing at: