Nigeria's government launches campaign against fake news

Nigeria's government has launched what it calls a "campaign against fake news." This was announced by Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's Minister of Information, at a press briefing on 11 July 2018.

Mohammed further exclaimed that fake news was like a time bomb waiting to explode.

β€œIn a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like ours, fake news is a time bomb. And in recent weeks, many anarchists have been doing everything possible to detonate the bomb. But for the prudence and vigilance of Nigerians, they – the religious and ethnic bigots among us – would have set the nation on fire, especially over the farmers-herders clashes as well as communal clashes,” said Mohammed.

β€œIn a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like ours, fake news is a time bomb. And in recent weeks, many anarchists have been doing everything possible to detonate the bomb. But for the prudence and vigilance of Nigerians, they – the religious and ethnic bigots among us – would have set the nation on fire, especially over the farmers-herders clashes as well as communal clashes,” he said.

Mohammed further explained that the government's campaign against fake news will include collaboration with digital as well as traditional media and the National Orientation Agency to educate Nigerians on the effect of fake news on Nigeria’s democracy and corporate existence as a nation. It is also important to note that Nigeria is due to hold presidential elections in 2019.

β€œThere is an epidemic sweeping the world. If left unchecked, it could be worse than all the plagues that the world has recorded put together. It is a clear and present danger to global peace and security. It is a threat to democracy. It is the epidemic of fake news. Mixed with hate speech, it is a disaster waiting to happen. For the media, the epidemic is even worse. This is because fake news, in most cases, is designed to misinform, undermines confidence in the media. And once the people lose confidence in the media, the society is in trouble," said Mohammed.

The announcement of this campaign comes almost 5 months after a team from Facebook, led by Ebele Okobi (Facebook's Public Policy Director for Afrika) visited and met with Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to explore various ways in which they could work together on voter education and engaging citizens ahead of the 2019 elections. Part of what Facebook has done thus far leading up to the 2019 Nigerian general elections is to pull down fake INEC pages on its platform in a move to ensure no false information is spread.


Cover image credit: File:Central business district, Abuja. Wikipedia Commons

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