ST. CATHERINE, Jamaica, February 10, 2020 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has a warning for persons using social media to spread fake news: be prepared to come before the courts.
Holness, the leader of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), told party supporters that with the “silly season” approaching, the party will be taking legal action against persons spreading “fake news” on social media.
“In previous elections you would have seen propaganda. In today’s world, with social media, it is called fake news,” Holness told a JLP Area Two Council meeting in St. Catherine.
“Now, they have something called deep fake. There is a sense that this fake news can influence how you think and how you vote; and you have to ask yourself, is it right for people to tell lies, and parade lies as truth, to trick you to vote a particular way?” the prime minister asked scores of green-clad Labourites attending the party’s Area Council Two meeting in Portmore, St. Catherine, south east of here.
“We have started to invest in the capacity in our party to detect and expose all the fake news that is being created and shared on social media. We know where they are coming from, and we know who are the people doing it, and as they put them up, we respond. Where they cross the lines, to be slanderous or libellous, we will take legal action.”
Holness also warned JLP supporters to refrain from engaging in such practices.
“We don’t need to spread fake news; we don’t need to trick voters to vote for us. We don’t need to be the purveyors of bad news and fake news. In just four years, we have so much good news. When they go low, we will go high,” he said.
He said the JLP has begun to beef up the party’s capacity to detect and expose content, packaged as fact, on social media
In his address, Holness warned JLP representatives against arrogance and that the party has adopted an even more forensic way of candidate selection.
“Politicians have to have big egos, but ego can be dangerous,” he said, warning against persons wanting to enter representational politics for personal gain.
“This is not about letters behind your name; this is not about distributing government contracts; this is not about enriching yourself, this is about service to the people. So anyone who comes into the JLP, under my leadership, anyone who joins this church, must understand that they come to serve, that they come to be good stewards of the public trust.
“This party has adopted a very scientific approach to candidate selection. Gone are the days, where people come to say I have been here long, or I have family roots, or I have money. Nowadays, we do a profiling of the candidate and the seat… we do surveys to get an understanding of who it is you want as your candidate. We made an error in the past, where we selected the persons the workers want, we have to select the person the majority of the people want.”
Holness said that the JLP is seeing a lot of people coming forward, wanting to be candidates.
“I am going to make it very clear that to join the JLP, as a candidate, you must fulfil the highest standards of public expectation,” he said.
The last general election, here, was held in March 2016, when the JLP won a slender one-seat majority in the 63-member Parliament. Since then, the party has increased its majority by winning two by-elections.