211 Check | July 2023
Theophilous Ochang, Torit-based VoEES
In South Sudan, like in many other parts of the world, Facebook account attacks and scams have become persistent issues for journalists and media practitioners. These attacks pose significant threats to digital safety and data security, potentially compromising sensitive information and undermining trust in the media. The spread of misinformation and disinformation through hacked accounts also amplifies social and political tensions.
Successfully mitigating these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that includes strong cybersecurity measures, regular training on digital hygiene and threat awareness, and fostering a culture of digital literacy among journalists and media professionals. Establishing channels for reporting and promptly addressing such attacks and scams is crucial in minimizing their impact and safeguarding the integrity of journalism in South Sudan.
Theophilous Ochang Andrew, an esteemed Media Practitioner at the Voice of Eastern Equatoria state-run radio station 97.5FM in Torit town, has successfully addressed a recurring issue of Facebook account hacking within his community. Previously, a lack of support was available for individuals affected by this problem.
Theophilous expressed gratitude for participating in the comprehensive online training program that expanded his knowledge in various areas. The training, particularly the Digital Safety and Data Security session held on July 26, 2023, enlightened him about proactive measures to assist his community, which had frequently fallen victim to cyber hackers. His newfound understanding motivated him to take action.
After attending the training session, Theophilous demonstrated the practical application of his learnings by assisting his colleague, Ongorok Pangarasio, whose Facebook account had been compromised a month prior. Utilizing his acquired expertise, Theophilous regained control of Ongorok’s account, returning it to its rightful owner. Presently, Ongorok enjoys uninterrupted access to his account, free from interference.
This experience has dramatically empowered Theophilous, fulfilling a personal aspiration of being able to aid communities vulnerable to online threats. With the knowledge he has gained, he is committed to continuing his efforts to safeguard communities against such risks. Taking proactive steps, Theophilous has already informed his extensive network of friends on Facebook, urging them not to remain silent if they encounter similar incidents. By sharing the link facebook.com/hacked, he ensures that individuals can access crucial information and resources to combat hacking attempts.
Theophilous’s dedication to digital security and his proactive approach to protecting his community exemplify his invaluable contribution. He is actively raising awareness and fostering a safer online environment for all through his actions.
Defyhatenow is working with IREX in implementing the Sustainable Independent Media Activity (SIMA) to improve access to credible, accurate, and reliable information for South Sudanese citizens by promoting the sustainability of high-quality, independent and factual reporting. SIMA is grounded in the understanding that a vibrant, resilient, and self-reliant media sector is a core building block for greater inclusive social cohesion, accountability, enhanced democratic governance, conflict resolution, and more pluralistic societies. In designing an approach to bolster independent media amidst various obstacles, IREX and Defyhatenow launched a three-month journalists’ mentorship program targeting forty (40) content creators in South Sudan to equip them with skills and knowledge to combat disinformation, explicitly focusing on fact-checking and verification techniques.