By Chinedu James
Nigeria has launched a national campaign against fake news to combat misinformation through social media and rising cases of violence influenced by fake news.
At the formal launch in Abuja yesterday, the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said fake news constitute a threat to national peace and coexistence adding that government has mapped out strategies to curtail its spread.
“Fake news in most cases is designed to misinform, undermine confidence in the media and once the people lose confidence in the media, the media and society is in trouble.
“For the record, the free online encyclopedia defines fake news as a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. This false information is mainly distributed by social media but is unfortunately circulated through mainstream media,” he said.
Mohammed said the campaign against fake newswould not lead to cohesion or censorship but advised media practitioners and individuals to check the credibility of the news and news source they share as fake news was endangering the lives of citizens.
“There shall be no cohesion or censorship but at the same time we expect lot cooperation as self -restrict from the media. I can assure you that we will continue to cooperate with security agencies, technological companies because it is not just about Nigeria alone, it is a global scourge,” said Mohammed.
A bill to regulate the use of social media in 2015 passed its first reading in the upper chamber of the National Assembly and has been listed for a second reading.