Truth On Trial: The Imperative Of Fact-Checking In The 2024 Election

Ghana’s electoral scene has been marked with various issues of misinformation and disinformation over the years. With ordinary individuals, party folks, and politicians sharing information about their political parties and other issues relating to elections, they tend to misinform and disinform the general public in one way or another.

The general public, which is in desperate need of information to make political decisions, ends up getting misinformed by the information they consume. The people who have been misinformed then tend to make wrong decisions, which in the long run affect their lives and the nation’s progress.

The quest to prevent the masses from being misinformed and disinformed prior to elections brings to light the need to fact-check information presented to the people. Fact-checking information helps to detect whether a piece of information is true or not. Since misinformation and disinformation in recent times have come in different forms, it has become difficult to detect them.

With the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI), texts, videos, and audios can be doctored to look very real, making it hard to detect whether they are fake or real. All these call for the need to fact-check information properly.

Fact-checking basically refers to the process of verifying information to ensure its accuracy and validity. This practice involves evaluating claims, statements, or data by cross-referencing them with credible sources, existing knowledge, or empirical evidence. Fact-checking is typically performed by journalists, researchers, and dedicated organisations to prevent the spread of misinformation and to provide the public with reliable information.

Issues of misinformation and disinformation in Ghana’s previous elections (2020, to be precise)

Ghana has held a total of twelve general elections since she gained independence in 1957, with the first one held in 1960 and the last held in 2020. Without doubt, it can be stated that the buildup to all these elections was marked by cases of misinformation and disinformation. With the spread of information, there will surely be issues of fake news and others intentionally directed to deceive the masses.

Prior to the 2020 elections, a video emerged on WhatsApp and Facebook purporting that some officers of the Ghana Police Service had been dispatched to intimidate and harass citizens residing in some areas noted to be the stronghold of the leading opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). This video, after proper analysis, was deemed to be false.

In the run-up to the same 2020 election, a video sprung up showing police officers retrieving some thumb-printed ballot papers. Following Fact-Check Ghana’s verification, it became clear that even though the video was not manipulated, it bore a false context as it was a 2013 video that did not relate to the 2020 elections.

Still in the run-up to the 2020 elections, one claim that quickly gained traction on some of the pro-partisan radio stations and social media on voting day (December 7) was that rubbing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which was being administered at polling stations as a measure of controlling the spread of COVID-19, before one cast a vote would make the thumbprint on the ballot paper vanish. Fact-check Ghana verified the claim as completely false and called on the general public to disregard it.

Even after the polls on December 7, 2020, myriads of misleading claims surfaced on social media, including fake election results and fabricated screenshots suggesting that international media platforms like the BBC and CNN had called the election for one candidate. Fact-Check subjected several of such claims to verification and debunked them as fake.

These instances, among many others, constituted issues of misinformation and disinformation that made waves before and after Ghana’s immediate past election. Even though the proactiveness of fact-checking organisations like Fact Check Ghana helped to bring some of this fake information to light, there were others that were not identified. This unidentified false information went on to shape people’s minds wrongly and made them take wrong decisions.

Dealing with mis/disinformation ahead of the 2024 elections.

Dealing with misinformation and disinformation ahead of the 2024 general elections will be a very difficult task. This is because of the inception of artificial intelligence (AI). AI, which can be used to create false information and doctor available information to make them look real, will increase the rate of misinformation and disinformation heading into the 2024 elections as compared to any other election that has been held in the country. It has already started, as there are traces of false information churned out with the help of artificial intelligence.

In the run-up to the NPP’s Parliamentary Primaries in January 2024, a video emerged on various social media platforms alleging that Ghana’s Deputy Ambassador to China and, at the time, a Parliamentary Candidate aspirant for Ablekuma North Constituency, Nana Akua Owusu Afriyie, had embezzled funds and was involved in visa fraud. In the viral video, a news anchor of an unknown foreign TV news channel is seen presenting the allegation against the Ghanaian diplomat and parliamentary aspirant as breaking news. However, verification of the video reveals that the accusations against the parliamentary aspirant are not only false, but the video is an AI-generated deep fake.

This and many others make it likely that spotting false information in the run-up to the 2024 elections will be difficult. However, a number of solutions have been suggested by groups, experts, and activists. One of such remedy is media and information literacy (MIL).

Media and Information Literacy, which basically refers to the set of skills and knowledge that enables individuals to access, analyse, evaluate, and create media and information in various forms, encompasses the ability to understand the role of media and information in society, critically engage with content, and make informed decisions as consumers and creators of information. Individuals can make use of MIL to curb misinformation and disinformation by:

  • Accessing content from credible sites, which means relying on reputable sources to ensure the information they consume is accurate and trustworthy,
  • Watching out for clues, which means identifying signs of misinformation, such as sensational headlines, a lack of sources, or dubious authorship,
  • Thinking critically before sharing, which requires them to evaluate the accuracy and credibility of information before passing it on to others,
  • Escaping their bubbles, which means seeking a 360-degree understanding of a particular subject matter by diversifying their news sources and using different search engines,
  • Speaking up, which requires them to expose misinformation and disinformation by reporting them using systems created by social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and X.

Fact-checking will also be a crucial tool that will help combat false information as Ghana draws nearer to the polls. Ghana can leverage fact-check agencies like Fact Check Ghana and Dubawa to curb misinformation and disinformation by promoting their verified information, encouraging public engagement with their platforms, and collaborating with media outlets and social media to rapidly debunk false claims during the 2024 elections.


Using these mechanisms provided by media and information literacy, coupled with the efforts of Fact Check organisations like Fact Check Ghana, will play an instrumental role in combating misinformation and disinformation as the nation gears towards the 2024 general elections.

By: Abigail Acheampomaa

University of Media, Arts, and Communication – IJ

Faculty of Journalism and Media Studies

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


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