Facebook To Work With Nigeria To Combat Fake News – Minister

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the
National Campaign Against Fake News has received a boost from the
Social Networking Platform, Facebook, which plans to partner with the
Federal Government to check the menace.
The Minister announced the planned cooperation in Abuja on Tuesday
when he visited Daar Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, in
furtherance of the campaign.
He said the national campaign, which was launched on 11th July 2018,
has succeeded in bringing the phenomenon to the front burner of
national discourse.
“We are not under any illusion that our campaign will immediately end
the menace of fake news. But we know that by creating national
awareness, we are putting the issue of fake news on the front burner.
“Fake news is now a subject of national discourse, workshops and
conferences. In the coming days, the social networking web platform,
Facebook, will be meeting with us and other top policy makers across
the country in the days ahead to see how to assist us in fighting fake
news. That, to us, is a major step forward, and we thank all
our partners, and indeed all Nigerians, for this achievement,” Alhaji
Mohammed said.
The Minister, who described fake news as a global phenomenon, said
different countries are adopting various measures to tackle the
menace, but said Nigeria has decided to appeal to the sense of
responsibility of media practitioners, bloggers and Social Media
Influencers, instead of engaging in coercion or censorship.
He said if left unchecked, fake news has the capacity to disrupt the
peace and unity of the country and it’s also a clear and present
danger to the nation’s democracy.
“For example, the fake news phenomenon played out during the recent
governorship elections in Osun State. Whereas 16 PDP members were
arrested for various offences, including impersonating observers and
for violence during the rerun, the purveyors of fake news made it look
as if the APC was the perpetrators of these crimes.
“Also, a few days ago, fake news about the release of Leah Sharibu
circulated freely on the social media. Imagine the additional trauma
this would have caused for the parents. Imagine the implication on
efforts to secure her release, and indeed the national security
implications,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said the campaign against fake news could not have come at a better
time, considering that the 2019 general elections are fast approaching
and enemies of democracy will latch on to it to wreak havoc.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director of Daar Communications
Plc, Mr. Tony Akiotu, commended the Minister for embarking on the
campaign to minimize the dangers of fake news to the unity and
security of the country.
He pledged the readiness of Daar Communications to partner with the
Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to check the excesses of
fake news.
“Honourable Minister, I will like to assure you that the management
and staff of Daar Communications PLC, without reservation, join in the
crusade and will be one of your major partners in the campaign against
fake news because we don’t have a choice. If we don’t do so, we will
be one of the media organizations that will be encumbered and whose
existence will be endangered by those who are involved in this
ignominious business,” Mr. Akiotu said.