Last week, Google launched the Nigeria Elections Trends Hub to help the West African nation’s presidential election, which is ready to happen in 37 days. In a press launch shared with TechCabal, the corporate said the Nigeria Elections Trends Hub will empower voters. However, the portal solely appears able to catering to the candidates being voted for.
The hub makes use of maps and graphs to check the recognition of presidential candidates and uncover trending searches about them and their events. Speaking concerning the device, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google’s communications and public affairs supervisor for West Africa, mentioned, “We’re empowering voters so that they are not simply watching from afar, but participating, engaging with, and shaping the political process in a democratic way.” But it’s troublesome to see how the hub empowers the on a regular basis Nigerian voter, provided that it appears extra prone to contribute to the recognition of the candidates than to defend or advance the rights of the typical Nigerian voter.
A device for the enterprise of politics
The Elections Trend Hub is hosted by Google Trends, they usually operate identically.
Google Trends is a device that informs the commercial campaigns of small to large companies for top engagement and efficient value planning. It makes use of graphs to check the search volumes of various queries over time and analyses their reputation throughout numerous areas and languages. Website publishers use it to jot down about trending subjects that may drive site visitors to their websites (search engine optimisation and content material advertising and marketing). In the identical vein, the Elections Trend Hub presents information that may inform the advertising and marketing campaigns of political events and drive the recognition of their candidates. Media publishers and content material creators who want to remain on high of tendencies in the course of the election season may use them to drive their content material methods. From all indications, the Nigeria Elections Trend Hub serves the curiosity of contesting politicians, not voters, but it’s being marketed as voter-focused as a substitute.
However, Google does have some voter-centered applied sciences. Voters in Africa face issues corresponding to misinformation and disinformation, censorship, web shutdowns, bodily violence, cyberattacks, and many others. Google has a number of tools to attempt to resolve these issues, protect the democratic rights of voters, and empower voters to make use of them.
Google for voters
Google has a venture known as Protect Your Democracy, which provides free tools that goal to protect public entry to the free and open internet, protect voters’ private info from cyber theft and abuse, and protect their well-being as they take part in election-related actions on-line. The tools within the venture embrace Outline, Intra, Project Shield, Perspective, and Fact Check Explorer.
The Outline device
Google’s device, Outline, protects customers from state-mandated web shutdowns.
During political contestations, corresponding to protests or elections, governments sometimes shut down web providers. In 2021, 12 nations lower web entry 19 instances in Africa. This consists of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
Nigeria has not skilled a nationwide web shutdown; nevertheless, in 2021, the federal government blocked its residents’ entry to the social media platform Twitter after the platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, claiming it was in violation of Twitter guidelines. Prior to that, the federal government had been threatening residents with social media regulation after Twitter performed a central function within the EndSars protest. The Twitter ban lasted for about seven months, throughout which customers had been solely capable of entry the platform utilizing Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps.
Outline makes it simple for anybody to create their very own VPN and bypass web shutdowns. It additionally has independently audited safety controls and powerful encryption to assist maintain communications personal.
Intra and Project Shield
Intra and Project Shield are tools that may empower voters by defending their entry to info in the course of the election interval.
Intra is an Android app that goals to forestall Domain Name Server (DNS) manipulation, a type of cyberattack that can be utilized to dam web sites and steal individuals’s info. Project Shield is a free service that protects web sites that monitor the information, human rights, and elections from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults.
During elections, DDoS can be utilized to take down web sites like election monitoring web sites that supply important election info corresponding to stay experiences of vote counts. Last 12 months, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reported that its result-viewing portal was unsuccessfully attacked by hackers in the course of the latest governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states. In one other West African nation, Ghana, the electoral fee web site additionally skilled a cyber assault. The hackers had been reportedly trying to place up faux outcomes.
The assaults that journalists expertise throughout politically delicate intervals usually are not solely bodily. Several have reported experiencing cyberattacks that rendered their web sites inaccessible for hours after publishing experiences that pose threats to their governments. HumAngle claims that it skilled one thing related after it printed a report that disputed what the navy claimed occurred in the course of the #EndSARS protest in Nigeria.
Project Shield supplies resilience to such essential web sites to maintain them on-line for entry by voters despite assaults. It makes use of Google Cloud Armor to ship limitless defence in opposition to any type of cyberattack that shuts down web sites with a purpose to suppress content material.
Fact Check Explorer
Google can also be striving in opposition to misinformation and disinformation, which develop into rampant throughout elections. The Fact Check Explorer works identical to Google search. It lets you seek for subjects, occasions, or statements which were fact-checked. For instance, you possibly can seek for a politician’s assertion and see if a reality checker or journalist has decided that they really mentioned it or if it was fabricated info or a parody. You can seek for something, from particular subjects to full politicians’ quotes.
The Fact Check Explorer shouldn’t be part of Google’s Protect Your Democracy venture, so Google doesn’t endorse any of the printed reality checks. However, any fact-checker, journalist, or researcher can publish their declare opinions utilizing Google’s Fact Check Markup Tool. If you publish an online web page that opinions a declare, you should use the Fact Check Markup to allow a summarized model of it to pop up when individuals seek for it.
Online harassment peaks round elections and silences influential voices in discourse, pushing those that are already excluded offline. Social media content material and conversations are more and more contributing to election violence, and social media platforms like Facebook have come beneath fireplace for insufficient moderation of content material that has been instantly linked to politically motivated violence in African nations.
Perspective is a device for dialog moderation that may help moderators in eradicating offensive or abusive remarks whereas fostering productive discourse with out stifling free expression. The self-serve API can help publishers and builders to facilitate safer on-line dialogues on their platforms by utilising machine studying to determine poisonous language.
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