Popular social media platform Facebook has offered to assist Nigeria electoral umpire INEC, in voter education and engage citizens meaningfully to achieve peaceful general elections in 2019.
According to INEC, this was made known when a team from Facebook, led by its Public Policy Director for Africa, Ebele Okobi, paid a courtesy visit to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ms. Okobi noted that with a membership base of 2.1 billion worldwide and 80 million from Nigeria, Facebook had recognized that the topics people mostly shared were about elections and politics.
“People care very deeply about how they are governed, about who governs them and other political issues. Knowing that people come to the platform to talk about what they care about, we have developed a politics and government programme essentially to understand how our platform is being used, not just during elections, but also to help governments engage with their citizens and also to see what the risks related to our platform in elections are and what opportunities and programmes can be put in place to address the risks. ”
Mr. Yakubu told the team that “a good election, I have always said, is a recipe for peace and a poorly conducted election could lead to violence and civil war. And part of it is the perception some people create on the social media”.
He noted that the Facebook has become one of the veritable means of interacting with the public.
“I think more people now get their news from the social media than the traditional media,” he said.
The Chairman thanked Facebook for pulling down fake pages of the commission from its platform just as it commended “the social media giant” for also putting mechanisms for checking hate speech and fake news in place.
He said the commission looked forward to working with Facebook in ensuring that the voting population gets the best to help them make informed choices.