Elections 2024 IEC guidelines

Those South Africans eligible to vote in the 2024 general elections have 11 weeks in which to decide who gets their ‘X’. Image: IEC Facebook

Digital and social media guidelines are vital for protecting electoral integrity

The IEC says disinformation can have a negative impact on the credibility of elections if it is not mitigated against or left unchecked.

Elections 2024 IEC guidelines

Those South Africans eligible to vote in the 2024 general elections have 11 weeks in which to decide who gets their ‘X’. Image: IEC Facebook

The Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC), newly released digital and social media principles and guidelines for elections are invaluable for protecting elections integrity and credibility, says the Chairperson of Mozambique National Election Commission, Reverend Carlos Simao Matsinhe.

He says the fight against disinformation is critical because, if left unmitigated, it can have a negative impact on the credibility of elections.

Matsinhe says the principles and guidelines emphasise the dangers of social media abuse and call for responsible use and accountability from both platform owners and users. 

‘ONLINE MESSAGING SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE ELECTORAL INTEGRITY’

In addition, the guidelines encourage African member states and regulatory authorities to refrain from imposing measures that might disrupt internet access and digital and social media.

Furthermore, they call on social media operators to treat political parties and candidates equitably and ensure that their online messaging, including that of their supporters, does not undermine electoral integrity or contravene human rights.

South Africa’s Deputy President, Paul Mashatile, says in today’s fast-paced digital world, there was a need to recognise the critical role that social media plays in shaping people’s opinions and establishing the narratives propelled during elections.

‘IT’S CRUCIAL TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS IN A CONSTRUCTIVE MANNER’

“As we witness the increasing use of these platforms in political campaigns, we must establish clear principles and guidelines to ensure a fair, transparent, and inclusive electoral process,” says Mashatile.

He says it is critical to constructively utilise these social media platforms to inform and disseminate positive messages regarding elections.

“The political environment during elections is tense and volatile, and we should use social media responsibly to ensure that the content we share is credible and accurate. I urge political parties that participate in robust debate on social media to uphold ethical standards and refrain from going too far in being unjust, deceptive, or hateful,” said Deputy President Mashatile. 

ADOPTION OF GUIDELINES WILL PLAY HUGE ROLE IN HANDLING AFRICAN ELECTIONS

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, Mosotho Moepya, urged all stakeholders to play their roles in ensuring that the guidelines are widely socialised and implemented, not only to increase voter confidence and trust in electoral processes, but also to ensure the deepening of democratic values.

The African Union Commission (AUC) Ambassador, William Awinador-Kanyirige, says adopting the guidelines will play a massive role in transforming and handling elections in Africa.

“The existence of these principles and guidelines will go a long way in inspiring other countries to follow the same steps, thus promoting peaceful elections,” Awinador-Kanyirige said.

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