Curb fake news and the excesses of social networks, By Zeenat O. Sambo

0

…security agencies must redefine their strategies by partnering with NITDA and local innovators to develop technology solutions that make it easier to gather intelligence and detect false sources of information. The scourge of fake news and its consequences must be fought head-on to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all.

The rise of social media has offered many benefits, including the opportunity to earn money, networking, and developing professionalism by breaking down barriers, creating content, growing the business, and other opportunities.

For these reasons, people around the world have exploited social media platforms as the most widespread technological development in the world. Given the ease of citizen engagement, social media platforms have provided increased access to citizen participation.

Unfortunately, social media is also used for spreading fake news and hate speech.

Fake news refers to the deliberate spreading of false information with the aim of damaging a person’s reputation, manipulating people’s perception of true facts, inciting people against the government and, what is most disturbing, to sow chaos in society.

There are many cases in which some netizens (internet users) have used social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to cultivate unsavory ways to gain weight by fabricating stories without verifiable sources or facts. Sometimes these stories are propaganda from malicious users or satirists maliciously creating disturbances to deceive the reader and serve selfish reasons that could be harmful to society.

The first social media uproar that generated a massive wave of fake news was the #EndSARS protest in October 2020. This saw a mass movement of young Nigerians online and street protests generating an estimated 28 million tweets in one week. The protest erupted after weeks of outrage and anger with videos and images showing police brutality, harassment and extortion in Nigeria.

It started as a peaceful protest but turned violent due to fake news that plunged the nation into a state of anarchy.

Although evidence of abuse by SARS personnel surfaced, various misleading information was also spread through social media platforms and other means by some sections of the masses who were angry and obsessed with provoking a crisis using such incidents as a trigger.

The voluminous rumors spreading in the heat of the #EndSARS protest prompted award-winning journalist and media strategist, Mohammed Dahiru Lawal, to compile the book titled 101 fake news about EndSARS to inform the public about how fake news on social media can turn peaceful protests into a national crisis.

The arrest of protesters in Abuja was debunked by Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Commissioner Bala Chiroma, also the rumor of a Katsina woman protesting SARS, and most disturbingly the alleged murder of young man in Ughelli by SARS, which sparked the EndSARS protests across the country have all been discovered as fake news by people and groups who manipulated images for ulterior motives.

For example, the death of Oke Obi-Enadhuze, who was allegedly killed by a policeman, was debunked by his brother who clarified that he (the victim) was attacked by thugs. The arrest of protesters in Abuja was debunked by Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Commissioner Bala Chiroma, also the rumor of a Katsina woman protesting SARS, and most disturbingly the alleged murder of young man in Ughelli by SARS, which sparked the EndSARS protests across the country have all been discovered as fake news by people and groups who manipulated images for ulterior motives.

The recent condemnable jungle justice handed down to Deborah Samuel, the Level 200 student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, for a blasphemous statement made via her WhatsApp group chat, was another violent incident that engulfed the media. social.

While blasphemous statements are disrespectful, offensive, inciting, provocative and frowned upon in all religions, it is also prudent to seek the advice of legal counsel when protesting against it, instead of resorting to jungle justice. .

However, the growing incidence of fake news has triggered many reactions and could have triggered another wave of antagonism and chaos across the country.

Still grappling with calming angry youths in the heart of Sokoto, it has become a challenge for some outlets like PRNigeria to ensure that fake news has no say in spreading more religious violence that could affect law and order in the affairs of the state.

According to a fake news report by PRNigeria, one of the fake reports was shared by the Catholic Broadcast Commission Nigeria on its Facebook page, which has over 90,000 followers. RCCS published a story that the home of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, was set on fire by rioters.

The message read: “Carnage in Sokoto today: Following a violent demonstration in Sokoto today. The Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Bishop Kukah’s House and the Catholic Pastoral Center which was built with over 1 billion naira was burnt down by thugs protesting the arrest of those who murdered Miss Deborah Yakubu.

However, Bishop Kukah debunked the claim, stating that no lives were lost in said riot. According to him, “contrary to the information in circulation, we wish to deny that there was no attack of any kind against the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah”.

Although the detection of fake news remains a challenge, considering the factor of time, manpower, logistics and technological resources, it is necessary to curb their spread before they cause more carnage in lives and national development.

Meanwhile, there was another case of trending video that claimed Northerners were attacking Southerners living in those parts of the country.

But PRNigeria’s analysis of the comments and reactions under the post indicated that the claim was not accurate. Some replies to the tweet claimed it was an old video of a suspected child trafficker who was arrested for kidnapping a child.

Beyond the fake news, the outlet further noted that the backlash contributes to hate speech that further infuriates already frayed nerves. Those who express contrary opinions are denigrated, threatened or attacked.

Fake news peddlers creating parody social media accounts during times of crisis are another warning to Nigerians. These social media accounts are often generated by ill-intentioned people who pose as high-profile figures to take advantage of the situation to drive traffic to their blogs and incite tantrums for selfish motives.

Although the detection of fake news remains a challenge, considering the factor of time, manpower, logistics and technological resources, it is necessary to curb their spread before they cause more carnage in lives and national development.

Thus, the outstanding works of other media platforms to curb the spread of fake news through fact-checking is commendable and should be supported to foster peace and unity in the country.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), through its subsidiary the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, can help develop simpler, user-friendly fact-checking tools for allow people to detect or verify information disseminated on social networks and traditional media. . Also, it can use artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to identify and block fake or parody social media accounts.

Additionally, security agencies need to re-strategize by partnering with NITDA and local innovators to develop technology solutions that make it easier to gather intelligence and detect false sources of information. The scourge of fake news and its consequences must be fought head-on to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all.

Zeenat o. Sambo written from Abuja; [email protected]


WATCH: Governor Yahaya Bello’s Roadmap to Hope 2023



ADVERTISING CITIZEN-FM


Support the integrity and credibility journalism of PREMIUM TIMES

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy and a transparent government.

For free and continued access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider providing modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you help sustain relevant journalism and keep it free and accessible to everyone.

Make a donation


ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT: Why Women Cheat: What Every Nigerian Man Should Know







PT Mag campaign announcement

Share.

Comments are closed.