The Federal government has issued a strong warning to Nigerians against fake news and reiterated its resolve to sanitize the nations social media space.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who addressed the press in Abuja on Thursday said he has met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose.
Mohammed lamented that the situation is dire, adding that no nation that values its peace, security, and stability will allow any irresponsible use of social media.
According to the Minister, fake news, misinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice for some individuals to create tension in the polity and destabilize the country.
He described those behind this spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use of misinformation in recent times, as the naysayers, adding that they were not about to relent.
“For some people, the 2019 elections are not over. They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge,” Mohammed said
“We have security challenges and we are tackling them head-on. There is no question about that. But the challenges are being aggravated by fake news and misinformation, in particular.
“Those behind this campaign of fake news and misinformation have also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling of old news items and videos.
“A good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia state in 2014. About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity. Their intention is simple: to create tension and panic in the country.
“Other recent instances of fake news: that President Muhammadu Buhari will be travelling to the UK for 20 days before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and Austria that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was attacked at the Rigasa train station in Kaduna that the Nigerian Air Force killed 250 Boko Haram insurgents.
“That the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is planning to unveil some new ‘communication regulations’ aimed at recording all calls, monitoring Whatsapp, Twitter, and Facebook, etc. Even private individuals have also been victims of this scourge
“We will continue to appeal to Nigerians to be circumspect in believing or circulating these fake news, as we did when we launched our national campaign against fake news in 2018.
“We are also pushing ahead with our plan to sanitize social media, working with stakeholders.
“By March 2nd, 2020, we will inaugurate the stakeholders’ committee that will deliberate and recommend the way forward.
“We are also planning a major international conference that will bring together the tech companies, media practitioners, policymakers and others as part of efforts to tackle this growing canker-worm.
“Last week, I met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose. The situation is dire, and no nation that values its peace, security, and stability will allow an irresponsible use of social media. “
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK