Minister of Information and Culture 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 Nation reports that the minister announced the planned cooperation in Abuja yesterday, when he visited Daar Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, in furtherance of the campaign. He said the national campaign, which was launched on July 11, 2018, has succeeded in bringing the phenomenon to the front burner of national discourse.
Mohammed said: “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,” the minister said.
Mohammed, 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.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) in collaboration with First Draft is to partner with The Guardian and other stakeholders in the country to combat misinformation ahead of 2019 general election.
The ICIR team, comprising its Executive Director, Dayo Aiyetan; Editor, Ajibola Amzat and Programme Officer, Gloria Agema paid The Guardian a courtesy visit yesterday to discuss the project with the newspaper’s team.
It said the goal of the project was to deploy the resources of collaborating media organisations in Nigeria and the United States to strengthen fact-checking and accountable journalism in the country.
“The stakeholder collaboration on fake news will allow various media partners to carry out real-time verification of rumours, manipulated photographs and videos on social platforms and debunk them before they go viral,” Aiyetan said.
He said the verification project would not only improve the public trust on the media, but also promote knowledge sharing among the partner newsrooms across the country.
The project is expected to commence in November with the training of journalists from the select organisations including, The Guardian, Punch, Channels television, The Nation, TVC, Premium Times, Sahara Reporters, University of Lagos, BBC Hausa, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Tribune, The Sun and The Cable.
“We believe the best way to fight the threat of fake news and save the integrity of our profession in the country is for the credible newsrooms in the country to collaborate on this verification project, Ayeitan said. Lessons learnt from this project will inform future academic researches and publication,” he added.