The Nigerian Government said it is ready to regulate social media, and has no intention of shutting down the platforms, stressing that it is through regulation that it will be responsible and refrain from being purveyor of “fake news and hate speech”.
Penpushing reports that, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made this known during an inspection visit to The Nation Newspapers and TV Continental (TVC) that were attacked in the aftermath of the protest against police brutality.
“We must regulate the social media in a manner that it does not become a purveyor of fake news and hate speech,”, Mohammed said, adding that the Federal Government has high regards for freedom of the press.
The Minister accompanied on the inspection by heads of parastatal agencies in his ministry, earlier announcements to regulate social media was met with criticisms, but explained that his recent call for the regulation of the excesses of the social media should not be misconstrued for a total ban.
“We did not at any time say that we will shut down the social media. Social media has come to stay and it will be an antithesis to democracy to shut it down because it is the fastest way of disseminating information.
“However, we must regulate the social media in a manner that it does not become a purveyor of fake news and hate speech. We will not fold our arms to allow purveyors of fake news and hate speech to use the social media to destabilise the country,” he said.
Penpushing further reports that, Mohammed said some of the owners of social media platforms, including Facebook and Whatshap, were making attempts to regulate their use because of the danger of fake news, just as he added that, the government foresaw the danger of fake news and hate speech as far back as 2017.
“We saw as far back as 2017 that the next epidemic that will hit Nigeria and the entire world is fake news and misinformation. Based on that, we dedicated an entire National Council on Information meeting in Jos to the issue.
“After this, we launched a national campaign on fake news on July 11, 2018, where we stressed that the next war will be fought without a shot being fired but with the use fake news. We did not stop there. We went on a tour of all media houses seeking their support against fake news,” he said.
The Minister speaking on the negative effects of fake news, pointed out that the farmers-herdsmen clashes of 2017 was largely fuelled by fake videos and pictures that were circulated on social media platforms.
Penpushing also reports that, he reminiscence that in 2017, a popular entertainer raised the false alarm that five students of the College of Education in Gidan Waya in Kaduna State were murdered by herdsmen, stating that following this falsehood there was almost reprisal attack before it was discovered that this was fake news.