Prisons chief, Johnson Byabashaija, has dismissed as “nonsense”, claims that a National Unity Platform (NUP) supporter was killed in prison, Chimp Corps report.
@bymez_dickov, a Twitter account known for peddling fake news, Tweeted that, “This was Nansana @NUP_Ug coordinator, who was kidnapped a few days ago by military men on M7’s orders and took him to Makindye barracks where they beat and tortured him, then dumped him in Kitalya prison where he has breathed his last.”
The Twitter account attached the photo of a one John Bosco Sserunkuma whom it alleged was dead.
Dozens of Twitter users quickly expressed their outrage over the false death.
However, Byabashaija quickly responded that Sserunkuma was admitted on December 14, 2020 from General Court Martial after being charged with unauthorized wearing of UPDF Uniform and was alive.
He emphasised Sserunkuma was “alive and kicking.”
NUP supporters later shared a photoshopped screenshot of Byabashaija’s Twitter handle, alleging he announced that Sserunkuma was whipped and “dropped dead during the process of cultivation…”
Byabashaija responded using his official Twitter handle: “Fake, We Never Do That.”
False. We never do that. 🤷♂️
— Johnson Byabashaija (@jbyabs) January 10, 2021
The development underscores the role of fake news in creating fear, anger and anxiety in Uganda as the country prepares for the January 14 presidential election.
“This account is now going to struggle to prove the allegations they have made here. I have since confirmed from a tweet by the Commissioner General of Prisons @jbyabs that this Prisoner is alive,” said NBS TV Anchor, Samson Kasumba.
“Shame of the account for trying to deceive the public,” he added.
Impact of fake news
Studies show that the intent of fake news is always to mislead the public and influence voting behaviour.
During the 2016 elections in United States, purveyors of fake news would pick hot topics that the country was divided on and still discussing as a nation — such as gun rights, race relations, immigration issues — and use that as a weakness against the people.
The entire purpose was to divide the people and make them fight each other from within.
Research also shows the social unrest on streets today, part of this is related to some of the fake news that’s been spread.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) recently said it had observed an increase in cases of misinformation and publication of fake news, videos and advice through digital platforms by individuals misusing communications platforms to publish, distribute and forward false, unverified, and misleading stories and reports.
“Such conduct can cause civil disobedience against the law or to lawful order incitement of violence against persons or property, cause financial turmoil in markets, unfounded public anxiety, or put a person’s life in danger by providing misleading guidance.”