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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Etoudi 2018: Paul Biya and the 'Fake news' in the presidential election

Since the beginning of the Cameroonian presidential campaign, untruths circulate on social networks, amplified by the increasingly widespread use of the Internet. A digital battle that caused "real" damage in the staffs of some candidates.

Thursday, October 11, the Minister of Communication brings Cameroonian actors of the web in the premises of his department. Before the thirty or so young bloggers, influencers and other Youtubeurs present, Issa Tchiroma Bakary announces the forthcoming creation of a Virtual Information Agency, whose objective will be to counter the proliferation of "fake news", ubiquitous both upstream and downstream. down the presidential election of October 7.

Even though the minister defended himself for gathering web activists in the context of the information warfare currently being waged on the web, opinion quickly established a link with the electoral battle.Especially since the same day, a video of a German deputy went around social networks, with a false translation indicating that the German Parliament recognized the self-proclaimed victory of Maurice Kamto. The footage has been viewed thousands of times, misleading journalists.

For Libii, a definite influence

In the team of candidate Cabral Libii, one of the main victims of these fake news, a dedicated team has been set up. It does not lack activity. As recently as Thursday, October 11, a false Twitter account attributed to the candidate of the Universe party claimed that the latter recognized the triumph of Maurice Kamto.

"Cameroonian and Cameroonian, after analyzing the 23,225 minutes scanned, it appears that Mr. Kamto is indeed the winner of the 2018 presidential election in Cameroon", could we read on the capture of this tweet which went around the web ... before the candidate made a formal denial.

For Melvin Ndongo, a member of Cabral Libii's digital team, false news is their "everyday life". "Well before the start of the campaign, our candidate was already under attack from our opponents on the web. It is extremely regrettable that the policy is so abject (...) The most harmful for us was the fact that we say that our candidate is a pawn of the CPDM. Until the last minute, we lost votes from indecisive people who told each other, because they heard him say it was the truth. However, it is not, "he says, saying" it's time to regulate this sector. "

To guard against this, the team watches 24 hours a day on the image of Cabral Libii, and meets regularly to react to different rumors.

The true false attempt of corruption of Kamto

Like that of Cabral Libii, the team of Maurice Kamto also had to face the phenomenon. The most virulent fake was a corruption attempt made by the candidate of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) against the competitor Serge Espoir Matomba, in the context of negotiations for the opposition coalition. "Totally incongruous" for Emmanuel Simb, 2nd vice-president of political formation.

"My comrade Okala Ebode was going to take the sum of one million francs to hand it to me, as the head of the MRC's Eastern Region campaign. An individual took a picture of high, and immediately the machine of the fake got in motion, "says Jeune Afrique Me Simb, while lamenting the messages of" hate "broadcast behind the fake news. "That's the drama. It is very serious, "he laments.

President Biya not spared

The fake news have also affected the camp of the outgoing candidate, President Paul Biya. The latter was notably announced on visits to Buea, Bamenda and Kribi. However, he made only one exit in the city of Maroua.

For the activist Florian Ngimbis, the proliferation of online rumors finds its explanation in the use that has been made of the Internet by candidates: "During this campaign, they were very few on social networks. There was no interaction between them and their activists or sympathizers. As a result, most of the debate has been fueled by these activists themselves, in groups that have starred in the official spaces of the candidates, "he analyzes.

Anyway, this election will have definitely brought Cameroonian politics into the digital age.