The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to online publishers not to lend their platforms to the spread of fake news. He warned that they would lose credibility if their publications were identified with fake news.
Speaking during an interaction with online publishers and social media influencers in Lagos on Tuesday, the minister said it was in furtherance of the National Campaign Against Fake News which was launched by the Federal Government in Abuja on 11 July 2018.
Alhaji Mohammed noted, ”Your credibility, and indeed your source of livelihood, is at stake. If the society loses confidence in the media, especially social media, because of fake news, you will be the worst hit. And we are very close to that point now.
”Today, nobody knows what to believe anymore. You read something online, and within a few hours, it is denied. The fake news epidemic is spreading fast.”
The minister said the traditional media and the global media organisations had joined in the fight against fake news, adding, ”A starting point is for you to put a banner on your various platforms that says: Say No To Fake News! Of course, a platform that abhors fake news will not engage in one.”
He also appealed to Nigerians to ask how credible the source of information is before sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp. “Don’t share any information for which you can’t vouch,” he admonished.
saying the government would not resort to either coercion or censorship in the campaign, Mohammed stressed, ”The war against fake news is a must-win. As a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, Nigeria cannot afford an unbridled spread of fake news. This phenomenon is exploiting our fault lines to aggravate the crises in the country.”
He said the fake news phenomenon has exacerbated the crises in the country, citing a recent BBC report that says fake news circulating in the social media is fuelling the farmers-herders crises in Nigeria.
”Gory pictures from other lands are circulated freely via Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, purportedly being from the killings in Benue or Plateau States,” Mohammed said.