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IEC eyes legal framework to guide digital media use in elections

The IEC's chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said that a continental working group would be established to develop guidelines that would govern the use of digital and social media in elections on the continent.

CEO of IEC Simon Mamabulo addresses those gathered at the IEC ROC for the election results. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said that a more inclusive approach was needed to mitigate the risks posed by social media.

A conference on safeguarding electoral integrity concluded in Cape Town on Thursday.

More than 30 election management bodies from Africa attended the gathering.

Nearly 200 delegates attended the event organised by the IEC and the United Nations Development Programme.

The IEC's chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said that a continental working group would be established to develop guidelines that would govern the use of digital and social media in elections on the continent.

"The conference identified as a key limitation the lack of guiding principles or legal frameworks to help guide the use of digital media in elections by all stakeholders."

The UN's Development Programme representative in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola, stressed that social media platform operators also had a role to play in curbing the spread of fake news.

"It is not an issue that the electoral management bodies can handle and address by themselves."

The IEC stressed the need to manage this new digital environment as the spread of disinformation could distort and harm democratic and electoral processes.