Curbing Fake News on Social Media: A Necessity
By Abbas Badamasi
In a simplest definition, fake news is untrue information presented as news. According to Wikipedia, it often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue. Though it was common in print and electronic media in the past, the prevalence of fake news has increased astronomically due to the rise of social media platforms.
Scholars, across the globe have affirmed to the fact that the widespread of fake news on social media has serious real-world impacts, and mounting concerns among the internet users. Easy access to social media platform such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, has been a major driver and tool for escalation of fake news around the world, with significant implications on users’ consumption patterns and attitudes towards the topic shared.
As a Nigerian, I am seriously disturbed and concerned that our youths are daily being fed with fake news that can trigger crises in the country. The effects of the fake news have aggravated violent protest, leading to death and destructions of properties.
Recently, there were many fake news and reports on the EndSARS protests. Some of the reports were accompanied by doctored and manipulative footages including photos, videos and audios, spreading happenings that never happened during the “EndSARS protest”, a campaign agitating against SARS brutality and maltreatment of citizens.
Actually, there is nothing wrong with a peaceful protest when your rights have been violated, according to the Nigerian constitution. But the #EndSARS protests were later hijacked by some unscrupulous elements,
Though, it is an undeniable fact that fake news has been there since before the advent of the internet. It is high time for it to be tackled, especially on social media platforms, in order to avoid misleading the citizens on happenings that never were.
To curb misinformation and fake news on the social media, government and private organisations must collaborate in addressing the menace by prioritizing media literacy in our schools and institutions. There should also be a sensitization campaign on the right usage of social media by citizens, social media Influencers and journalists.
Government bodies, especially the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) can play prominent roles on awareness creation and deployment of monitoring tools for sanctions.
It is imperative that there is a dialogue, where key media stakeholders and government officials will come up with policy guideline, on the use of social media and punitive laws against fake news dissemination.
In conclusion, the curbing of fake news on social media is a collective responsibility of all Nigerians. We must fight fake news. Otherwise, it may sooner or later, incite another civil war in the country, with the way uncorroborated and baseless reports spread like wild fire, especially among some gullible citizens.
Kolar Dukawuya, Kano