The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has launched a National Campaign against Fake News, stressing that the phenomenon a time bomb that could detonate with deadly consequences if left unchecked.
Addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, he also described fake news as a global epidemic that could be worse than all the plagues that the world had recorded put together, a clear and present danger to global peace and security, and a threat to democracy.
According to him, fake news was capable of undermining confidence in the media, adding: ”Once the people lose confidence in the media, the media and the society are in trouble.”
Mohammed said the essence of the campaign was to ”sensitize all Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria by the phenomenon, and the fact that each and every Nigerian has a role to play in curtailing the spread of fake news”.
He explained that though the federal government had been calling national attention to the issue of fake news and hate speeches since last year, “the timing of the launch is also not unconnected to the role of fake news in aggravating the various crises in the country as well as the need to check this phenomenon ahead of the 2019 elections.”
The Minister said the government will use all the information dissemination tools at its disposal, work with both the traditional and social media, as well as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitize Nigerians.
He assured that the campaign will, however, not involve the use of coercion and censorship, but appealed to the media to lead the campaign, and to Nigerians not to share any news or message unless they can vouch for its source and authenticity.