The Fijian Elections Office held an inaugural meeting with Meta, the owners of Facebook, in its office in Sydney, Australia yesterday.
At the meeting, the Supervisor of Elections, Manager of Public Relations, and the Coordinator for the Centre for Credible Election Information held discussions on numerous topics and presented FEO’s various initiatives during the meeting.
Mohammed Saneem says they welcome the opportunity to meet with the executives of Facebook in Australia, the regional headquarters, so that they can thrash out various initiatives, opportunities as well as issues arising from the Facebook platform, which is one of the most widely used social media platforms in Fiji.
Saneem says the discussion also focused on the training and security measures for the 2022 General Election, adding that it was a very useful first meeting.
The FEO notes that whilst Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, it has also been found to have the highest amount of misinformation as identified by the survey participants in the FEO’s pre-election survey.
This is a matter that the FEO will not take lightly, and the CCEI has been one of the initiatives of the FEO to carry out fact-checking, rebuttals and corrections of fake news and false information that has been published in Fiji.
The Supervisor of Elections adds that the meeting was also an opportunity for the Fijian Election Management Body to put critical matters into context for Facebook executives so that they have a better understanding of the entire process.
The Social Media giant was notified that it needs to play a greater role in the combating of disinformation and misinformation during the general election, which was received positively by the social media giant.
Going into the 2022 General Election, the FEO believes that the right to information is also expanded to include the right to be protected from misinformation and disinformation.
As identified in the 2018 General Election reports, the 2018 General Election was plagued by directly engineered misinformation, which is now termed “disinformation”.
Therefore, it is critical for the FEO to implement counter-measures for such unethical practices, whether it is a candidate, political party or anonymous individuals hiding behind fake profiles in Fiji.
The duo also presented the growing concerns in Fiji in relation to people using fake identities to harass individuals, creating fake pages to harass every sector of society, hiding behind anonymity.
Facebook and FEO will soon collaborate to organize training for all political parties on using the platform and its features more effectively in the 2022 General Election.