New project to track social media use during Ghana’s elections

Penplusbytes, under its African Election Project (AEP), is currently implementing Ghana’s first Social Media Tracking Centre (SMTC) to monitor the use of social media during Ghana’s 2012 elections.

The SMTC will provide a real time response mechanism on election irregularities, violence and other concerns by reaching out to key election stakeholders for immediate action, a release signed by Mr Jerry Sam, Project Director of African Elections Project said on Wednesday.

Penplusbytes in partnership with key partners like the Georgia Institute of Technology, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and EnoughisEnough (EiE) Nigeria, with support from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), is implementing the project.

The release said despite the several media monitoring activities in the mainstream media surrounding Ghana’s 2012 elections, there was currently only a handful inefficient manual tracking of elections trends taking place in the growing social media environment.

“The Social Media Tracking Centre, therefore, comes at an opportune time in addressing this challenge and ensuring an efficient social media monitoring capability among key actors covering Ghana’s 2012 elections”.

The real-time data capturing ability of the SMTC will allow for up-to-the minute tracking of incidents taking place in different areas around the country.

Also the Centre would collate, analyze and transmit as alerts to relevant elections stakeholders’ such as the National Elections Security Task Force (NESTF), civil society actors, the media and Electoral Commission of Ghana, all important incidents for necessary action to be taken.

According to Mr. Michael Ohene-Effah, Governance Advisor at DFID, “Ghana DFID welcomes and supports this ground-breaking social media tracking centre initiative. Its ability to ‘sweep’ all social media during the 2012 general elections will afford civil society, state authorities and development partners the opportunity to know in real time public opinions, sentiments and attitudes relayed through different social media platforms in order for relevant actions to be taken.”

Mr Jerry Sam, Project Director of African Elections Project (AEP) reiterated the need for an SMTC, saying  “with the rising interest and increased use of social media as a channel of communication, interaction and networking by a rising number of Ghanaians on the elections, we expect that monitoring social media powered by the SMTC, will serve as early warning mechanism thereby contributing significant reduction of electoral violence. It will at the same time ensure transparent and free elections.”

Source: GNA

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