Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili has disclosed that Nigerians have a duty to be soldiers to defeat misinformation and disinformation, as the effects can be damaging.
Dr. Ezekwesili stated this while delivering a keynote speech at the one-day webinar tagged, ‘Public Accountability in Stemming Misinformation’, which was organized by The International Centre for Journalists (ICJF) Knight Nigeria programme in collaboration with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and supported by the FactCheckHub.
Dr. Ezekwesili stressed that accountability is fundamental when sharing information and “anyone who owns a part of a public space such as Instagram or Facebook, must be accountable for the things that they do and the information they share.”
She also noted that “the rise in disinformation is becoming alarming and too dangerous a thing for any of to be sanguine about. We have a duty to be soldiers that come together to defeat misinformation and disinformation.”
Continuing, the former Minister of Education emphasized that to fully tackle misinformation, “we need to think incentive and disincentive based approach. We need to have a system that makes a person become a purveyor of accurate information and a system that reduces their credibility when they share fake news.
“We need to overwhelm the market of news with the right news, the accurate news. This will overwhelm the false news,” she added.
On his part, Mr. Naziru Mikail Abubakar, Editor-in-Chief/Executive Director of Daily Trust Newspaper tasked media organizations on the need to invest in fact checking and training of journalists on how to counter disinformation.
He said, “Journalists who are part of the online community need to be trained to verify what is true and wrong. They also need to know how to engage with people peddling misinformation and fake news.”
Abubakar said “news organizations should not only republish fact checks of other organizations, but should also initiate a sustainable fact checking system that consistently verifies information.
“Statements by government officials should also be fact-checked. If it is difficult to do this individually, media organizations should collaborate with each other to make this possible,” he added.
Ms. Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development while speaking on Misinformation on Nigeria’s Social Media Space said, “Social media can be a positive tool. It has given us the opportunity to hold public office holders accountable. But falsehoods spread faster because of the access and reach of social media.”