European Union External Action

Promoting factual COVID-19 information to counter fake news in Timor-Leste

29/01/2021 - 06:47
News stories

Team Europe supports the digital platform The Oekusi Post under the initiative “COVID19 Response in Timor-Leste” aiming to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable families and provide social messaging about the pandemic.

Timely and reliable information is crucial in saving lives and mitigating the impact of crises such as the current covid-19 pandemic. Access to information makes it possible for citizens to follow responses to the crisis, such as confinement rules, regulations of travel and schooling, virus testing, medical equipment supplies, and economic aid or incentive packages.

Access to information is at the core of democracy, it builds trust in the institutions, it allows the public to fulfil their fundamental rights, to make informed decisions, thus allowing them to participate in policy-making and decision-making processes.

To address the gaps in information dissemination in the enclave of Oecussi, in Timor-Leste, Team Europe is supporting The Oekusi Post, an on-line media platform, to boost social messaging about covid-19 prevention and to promote factual information to counter fake news.

The Oekusi Post is an online media platform that presents a variety of news within Timor-Leste in three languages: Tetum, English and Indonesian. It also includes a fact checking site with the aim of debunking fake news that spreads on social media platforms.

“We started The Oekusi Post in early 2020 with nothing but a team of under resourced and unpaid journalists dedicated to sharing factual news – says the journalist Raimundos Oki - As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, differing theories and conspiracies came with it, causing confusion, concern and panic amongst populations. Timor-Leste was no exception to this. Timorese were looking for a credible information source to guide them in understanding what the real risks were locally and what they can do to mitigate them. This is where The Oekssi Post swung into action, utilizing our fact checking expertise to debunk false information being circulated and push the known facts to the population. Our team of under equipped volunteers struggled to cover stories and keep up with the population’s unprecedented demand for factual news”.

The Oekusi Post has received computers, cameras and motocycles support in the framework of the European Union funded #TeamEurope “Response to COVID-19 in Timor-Leste”. This €1.2M programme is being implemented by CARE International, Plan International, Oxfam, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services and is covering eight out of Timor Leste’s twelve municipalities, and Oecussi enclave. The initiative targets 30,000 vulnerable people, providing community services as well as direct support to particularly hard-hit families. 

“We are very grateful that the European Union, through CARE International in Timor-Leste, recognized our potential and gave us what we needed to perform at our best. Through providing us with high quality journalist equipment, we now have all the tools we need to keep up with demand by continuing to debunk false information and serving the masses factual news to help guide them in taking the best measures to keep Timor-Leste as safe as possible. Additionally, this new equipment will also allow me to train more new journalists how to fact check and ensure that information they are circulating is accurate”, says Raimundos Oki


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