As Nigeria general elections draw closer, sharing of fake news is on the rise. It was alleged that many fake news mostly online are coming from top politicians in the country to suit their personal gains.
Looking back, fake news was not a term many people used, but it is now seen as one of the greatest threats to democracy and number one enemy of Nigeria, the most popular black nation in the world.
Many social media users including unknown and untrained bloggers in the race to have organic traffic and comments on their websites engage in quark news break online even before any mainstream online without verifying the source of the news.
According to Wikipedia, Fake news or junk news or pseudo-news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. The false information is often caused by reporters paying sources for stories, an unethical practice called checkbook journalism. The news is then often reverberated as misinformation in social media, but occasionally finds its way to the mainstream media as well.
Fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically,often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership. Similarly, clickbait stories and headlines earn advertising revenue from this activity.
According Telegraph UK, many Governments and powerful individuals have used information as a weapon for millennia, to boost their support and quash dissidence.
In November 2018, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), published a report that showed that Nigerians usually fall prey to fake news because they are concerned about “not falling behind on the news” and being informed, among other reasons.
Prior to that period, the federal government of Nigeria launched a campaign against fake news where the information minister, Lai Mohammed, likened the effects of fake news to a time bomb waiting to explode.
He said the decision of the government to launch a campaign against fake news was linked to the possible effects of rumours that could cause crisis across the country.
The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), West Africa, Hassan Idayat, believes the spread of fake news in an election season is typically geared towards garnering more votes.
In a piece made available to PREMIUM TIMES on the trend, she said fake news can also be aimed at dividing the electorate or “suppressing votes for one’s rivals”.
Fake news, she said, is a huge concern ahead of the Nigerian elections and shows no signs of letting up or being tackled.
She also blamed the proliferation of social media platforms for the quick spread of fake news.
“This is worrying as disinformation is provoking animosity along religious, ethnic and regional divides which are often already tense,” she said. “It is increasing distrust in both specific candidates and the process as a whole.”
She explains further: “False information in Nigeria spreads through various channels, but social media provides the cheapest and quickest ways to access millions. Through Whatsapp and Facebook, people share propaganda videos, made-up quotes, and fabricated articles made to look like they are from the likes of the BBC or Al-Jazeera.
So, before you share that fake news, remember how many people might end up losing their lives because of the video, text or graphics image you about to broadcast on social media. Don’t think because you have access to a smartphone and data and destroy your country.
If at all you want to share it, VERIFY the source of the content you want to rebroadcast on whatsapp and other online platform.
Fake news can destroy the peace we are enjoying in Nigeria today. Make your country number one priority before any individual or party. Remember without your country, your party can not exist. Remember other African countries who in crisis today.
Don’t be a refuge in your fatherland in the name of love for someone or party.
Stop sharing fake news.
Credit: PREMIUM TIMES, Wikipedia, UK Telegraph