IEC PREPARES TO TACKLE AI-GENERATED MISINFORMATION AHEAD OF ELECTIONS 2024

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is gearing up to tackle the dissemination of artificial intelligence (AI)-generated misinformation in the build-up to the upcoming 29 May elections.

A report by the World Economic Forum flagged AI-generated misinformation as a significant global risk, particularly concerning democratic processes, ranking second only to extreme weather in the 2024 Global Risk Report.

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IEC PARTNERSHIPS AND EDUCATION

Mawethu Mosery, IEC’s deputy chief electoral officer of outreach, reiterated the commission’s commitment to collaborating with stakeholders to address the emerging threat of deep fakes, which have the potential to undermine the integrity of the election.

The IEC plans to team up with statutory bodies overseeing digital content and civil society organisations to monitor and cleanse the information landscape. Additionally, partnerships with technology companies are seen to facilitate interventions against misinformation.

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Moreover, the IEC intends to empower voters through meaningful and relevant education, urging them to discern and reject false, exaggerated, or manipulated information designed to disrupt the electoral process.

THE PADRE INITIATIVE AND PUBLIC AWARENESS

In a bid to counter the proliferation of deep fakes, the IEC, together with Media Monitoring Africa, has launched the Padre initiative. This initiative empowers voters to fact-check information related to South African political parties and their recent pronouncements.

With an estimated four billion individuals set to participate in elections globally this year, including in South Africa, the looming threat of AI-generated disinformation looms large. The growing sophistication of deep fakes poses a challenge for both politicians and voters.

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RAISING AWARENESS AND VERIFYING INFORMATION AHEAD OF ELECTIONS 2024

Anna Collard, a content strategy expert at KnowBe4 Africa, highlighted the imperative of raising public awareness about the perils of deep fakes. She stressed the importance of verifying information, especially in the context of deeply polarising statements attributed to political figures.

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Collard underscored the ease and affordability of producing deepfake videos and images, warning of their potential impact on elections. She urged vigilance and proactive measures to mitigate the adverse effects of misinformation and disinformation campaigns.

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