The crisis in the English speaking Regions of Cameroon which began in 2016, gradually turned into an armed conflict in the later part of 2017 with a rise in attacks on ethnic groups, political figures and parties, race, religion, individuals. The social media no doubt has been a facilitating tool to these attacks which incites violence both online. Against this backdrop, #DefyHateNow which is an urgent community peace building, training and conflict reconciliation project aimed to strengthen the voices and support the actions of primarily youth oriented civil society organizations to counter social media based hate speech, conflict rhetoric and incitement to violence both online and offline, has launched a 2 months #FactsMatter237 Fellowship.
Holding in Douala on January 4th and 5th, the 7 fellows;
Pedmia Shatu Tita
Tarhyang Tabe Enow Bikah
Sitchoma Armelle Nina
Batchou Frank William
Ngbwa Marc Ghislain
NGUEMKAP KOUAMO Romuald Landry
were schooled by Paul Joel Kamtchang, the Executive Secretary of ADISI Cameroun on contextualizing Hate Speech and its Dangers in Cameroon, classifications and categorization of Hate speech, methodology for writing a hate speech monitoring report, Dangers of Fake News, Mis-information among others. For two days these fellows were engaged in practical sessions for image and video verification and reporting hate speech.
Talking to Ngala Desmond Ngala, #DefyHateNow Cameroon project lead, who explains that #FactsMatter237 Fellowship aims at monitoring and mapping viral trends on the social media related to the thematics like Hate speech, Fake News, Mis-information in selected regions for two months. The fellows will identify and evaluate potential reach of the stories online and the impact if any offline. This pilot phase will be focused on how to cultivate the skills needed for creating a healthier and safer online experience for all users devoid of toxic ideologies, hate speech, misinformation, disinformation and fake news which are ingredients for violence. All fellows shall contribute to a bi-monthly briefing that will be aimed at evaluating their awareness level of information as they give analysis that could help institutions and social media users to be less susceptible to hate speech, fake news and incitement to violence.
The program will be based on a dual approach, first the Fellows will work independently and summit results based on their targeted domains and towns to a Google drive for evaluation. Also, Fellows will be called upon to interact with each other and an expert as they collectively seek ways of addressing challenges linked subjects raised through a face to face meeting with #DefyHateNow Expert giving them adequate training. Mr. Ngala further explains that the program aims at giving fellows the opportunity to develop and lead an original Facts Checking Platform that could be implemented within the framework of #defyhatenow operations.
Tarhyang Tabe Enowbikah after the two days training confessed he training is a plus to him as a journalist and as a fact checker “information, image and video verification is something most propagandist those care about and the few of us who attend trainings like this must make the difference to water down the strength of fake news by publishing facts from findings”.
It is important to note that the #DefyHateNow project idea was initiated in response to the South Sudan political and civil crisis which erupted in December 2013 – a conflict, which has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe of around 4 million displaced people and massive loss of trust among communities.
Pedmia Shatu Tita