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Peter Cunliffe-Jones worked as a foreign correspondent and editor of foreign news for the AFP news agency in Western Europe, the Balkans, west Africa and the Asia Pacific for 25 years from 1990-2015; serving as a correspondent in Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkan wars, Bureau Chief in Nigeria during the end of military rule in the country, Chief editor for Asia-Pacific overseeing coverage of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 from Hong Kong, and Stylebook editor and Head of Online News in London. In 2012, he set up Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, AfricaCheck.org, expanding it to four countries (South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya) and leading it until May 2019, making it a leader of the new international fact-checking movement. In 2016, he became the first chair of the advisory board for the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and in May 2019 was appointed IFCN’s senior adviser. His first book, “My Nigeria: Five decades of independent” published in 2010, was declared “a triumph” by the late Professor Chinua Achebe. He was a fellow of the Shuttleworth Foundation from 2016-2019.
Since the first fact-checking organisation was launched in Africa in 2012, the number of organisations set up to fight misinformation on the continent has grown to more than a dozen. All are working on the understanding that the misinformation that is circulating in different forms, does or has the potential to cause significant harm to individuals and society. However, despite much public discussion of the issue of misinformation in Africa as elsewhere in recent years, very limited research into the nature and spread of mis/disinformation in Africa and its impact on the continent, has been conducted.
The goal of the research programme is to provide an evidence-based review of (i) the nature of and exposure to misinformation across Africa, examining the types and formats of misinformation observed by more than a dozen fact-checking organisation and/or identified by other actors; (ii) the types and nature of harm that misinformation causes to individuals & society and the factors that lead to that harm; (iii) what drives and enables the spread of the harmful misinformation and (iv) the effectiveness of countermeasures to harmful misinformation on the continent.