False information on the coronavirus and the spreading of fake news can have very serious consequences on people’s lives. This awareness is driving young people all around the world to take action, as demonstrated by the story of Nelson Kwaje, a 28-year-old young man living in South Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world and victim of a long and bloody civil war.
Nelson is Director of the Defy Hate Now programme, an organization based in South Sudan (with offices also in Cameroon, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia) that promotes digital culture through training courses on media literacy and fights online incitement to violence and the dissemination of messages of hatred via social media.
Armed with this considerable experience and his exceptional technological skills (he is a software programmer), Nelson contributed to the launch of #211CHECK collective, a digital community made up of young people with skills in various fields that, using the hashtag #COVID19SS, work to spread correct misinformation and provide precise instructions on the Covid-19 prevention measures adopted in Sudan.
#211Check plays a key role in exposing fake news, disputed remedies, cures with no scientific basis and the images that could confuse and mislead the public. In addition to the internet and social media, #211Check’s activities also extend to the radio, hence reaching as many people as possible in a region where access to the internet is still very limited.
As we saw with Inés Yabar’s #contagiousstory, information and solidarity networks created by young people are becoming a very important tool for fighting the spread of the virus worldwide. And they are a precious resource to be used in the future, in support of public health policies.