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Editorial: Next Election Will Be A Dirty Fight

IN case anyone was under any illusions that the next election is going to be a clean fight, the sparring in today’s Tribune between the FNM and the PLP ought to dismiss such notions.

In a press conference yesterday, PLP leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis accused the FNM of funding “toxic, deceptive” political advertisements that have appeared on social media sites such as Facebook.

Last night, FNM chairman was firing back about the likes of Bahamas Press and sites such as the Gallery and Bahamas Against Corruption which he says “come with distasteful things against the FNM”.

Mr Davis said: “I can handle rough and tough politics. I have no problem with that. I am talking about how this FNM’s dirty political tactics are more deceitful and more dangerous than anything we’ve seen in our country’s modern history.”

That’s quite some claim, considering some of the antics in past election campaigns.

For his part, Mr Culmer said of the posts circulating against the FNM: “From day one these guys were on every media platform with the filthiest and most vile memes you could come up with.”

You’ll notice that each of them busily points to the other side without denouncing anyone on their own side taking part in such things.

Mr Davis, at least, says “it is long past time for a public conversation in this country about the role that Facebook is playing in our democracy” – which is a nice way of saying something while saying nothing. If you want to start the conversation, Mr Davis, start it. Let’s hear about who is behind these groups. Let’s hear about who is funding some of these so-called news sites which are less news, more smears.

If you want these kinds of advertisements to end, let’s hear what each of you plans to do if someone associated with your party is revealed to be connected to them. Will you expel them from the party immediately?

It is absolutely true that social media has played an increasing part in election campaigns around the world – and one of the great hazards is that it puts claims in front of people without it being fact checked. A social media post can claim anything – and there’s no independent reporter checking the details, or right of reply from the opposition.

If The Tribune posts a story, you know right where to come to complain. If some random account on Facebook does so, that can vanish into the night with no way to counter the claim.

The danger has been clear to see from the effects of memes being circulated during the past two US presidential elections – prompting the rise of misinformation and allowing lies to spread farther and faster than the truth.

Here’s what is being proposed right now to tackle that ahead of the next Bahamian election: Absolutely nothing.

So when you see these posts, use your head. Ask yourself who’s saying this and why. Check it against reliable mainstream sources. If it’s a source posting it that can’t be called to account in a court of law if they’re telling malicious lies? Take it with several pinches of salt. And don’t share these things if you’re not sure they’re true. And if any party criticises fake social media posts without warning their own members of the consequences of posting the same? Take that criticism with a pinch of salt too.

The election season isn’t quite here yet – but the gloves are already off.

Buyer beware

Nygard Cay is up for sale, it seems.

There was a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance on a real estate website with a price tag of $59m – despite its crumbling condition having been left abandoned for so long now – and it looks like it is headed to auction if owner Peter Nygard has his way.

Mr Nygard, of course, is facing a number of legal battles right now – the most serious being a series of allegations of sex offences, for which he is in custody in Canada pending extradition to the US.

He also faces a legal fight here in The Bahamas – with his opponents estimating he owes them $7m from the numerous court orders against him.

Oddly enough, the appraisal of the property – be it that $59m or the $20m it is rumoured the auction bidding will start at – is far higher than the $14m given in an independent appraisal carried out by Save The Bays.

So buy it and you might end up with a hole in your pocket to match the holes in the property.

It seems of course that Mr Nygard might well want to sell the property before it is seized to pay the debts he owes here.

The Tribune will continue to follow this matter – so watch this space.

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