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Nigeria’s Fake News Crisis Demands Better Digital Engagement with Voters, Says Rate Your Leader App Founder, Joel Popoola

Following the promise made by Nigeria’s Vice President on better engagement between politicians and the press as a result of the spate of alarming outbreaks of fake news, the Founder of a democracy project, Rate Your Leader App, Mr. Joel Popoola, has advised that lawmakers would be better off using technology to reach out to voters.

His advise is premised on recent false reports of a bomb-attack on the South African embassy in Lagos and terrorist atrocities in Borno State which were peddled on the internet, in addition to Nigeria’s Department of State Services  being forced to deny operating a Twitter account, after fake messages claiming to be from their official accounts appeared on the platform.

Recall that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo earlier in the week, called on news organisations to do more to tackle the “fake news or provocative information” he believes “can cause chaos, civil unrest, war, and even death”.

He continued: “I think all of us in the media; social media, print, TV, all of us, should begin to do something serious about fake news before it begins to consume us”.

However, Mr. Popoola, the Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur and founder of the Digital Democracy project informed that the project’s Rate Your Leader app helps politicians engage with voters in their constituencies, helping them understand what matters most to the people who elect them and build relationships of trust with the electorate.

The app, he noted also allows voters to identify and contact their representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phones or tablets.

“Politicians need to ask themselves why social media provides such fertile soil for dangerous rumours to take root – one of the main reason is the lack of trust electors have for the elected.

“Young Nigerians are more likely to own a smartphone than they are to vote. That’s why it makes it so important for politicians to use that technology to built relationships of trust with the voters.

“Fake news of the kind we’ve seen in Nigeria in recent weeks necessitates the public having reliable sources of information they can go to online, and where is a better place to got than directly to their local representatives?

“Nigerian voters need to know what information they can trust, and also that they can trust their local representatives,” Mr. Popoola.

Rate Your Leader is a free app which allows voters to communicate directly with elected representatives in a way which makes abuse impossible, as well as rating them for responsiveness.

The app was developed by the Digital Democracy project, which aims to use digital technology to reconnect electors and the elected.

The Rate Your Leader app is available from the Apple and Google Marketplaces. It has a five star rating on the Google market, with one reviewer writing: “This is the new level of politics…better communication of leaders with the electorates and accountability”.

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