“…I am also one of the very many targets of fake news. And, it isn’t just for money, sometimes, it may also cause you marital peace.”
Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja (with agency report)
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, recounted how they were victims of fake news in Nigeria.
Soyinka, who spoke in Abuja, at an event organised by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service titled: ‘Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake News,’ said fake news is lethal and deliberate.
Also at the event were the Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Kingsley Moghalu, the Director, BBC World Service, Jamie Angus, among others.
Recall that an audio recording surfaced online last week allegedly ascribed to Amaechi as castigating the President.
Giving an example of a personal brush with fake news, Soyinka insisted he never said former President Goodluck Jonathan married an illiterate woman, as ascribed to him in 2014.
In his remarks, Osinbajo said he had also been affected by fake news.
“…I am also one of the very many targets of fake news. And, it isn’t just for money, sometimes, it may also cause you marital peace.
“I got a call in the office from my wife about three or four weeks ago and she said: ‘Yemi, what were you doing with strippers? I replied; ‘what do you mean, strippers?”
He added that there had been a story on a very famous blog with the headline: “Osinbajo Caught With Strippers,” and there was a photograph of him standing between two perfectly clothed ladies, but just underneath it, the same ladies were not wearing much cloths.
Osinbajo added that as it turned out, he had in fact taken photographs with the two ladies at an entertainment event when they were perfectly clothed, saying by the time the story was put out, it was as though he had also taken the photograph with them when they were not clothed at all.
Osinbajo concluded that the capacity of fake news to cause great harm was not in doubt.
He also said frequently, particularly everyday, he saw news that affected his work; in one way or the other that were fake.
He said if nothing was done to halt the menace, a time will come when nothing will be believable.
“I think that if we discredit public information in that way, it is a massive danger for society itself aside from the capacity of fake news to cause physical harm and all that,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo, however, said it will be impossible to regulate social media without substantially infringing on the fundamental human rights, especially Freedom of Expression.
On his part, Angus said the best way to fight fake news is through the basic tools in journalism.
“And, a lot of what we can do to fight fake news is use basic tools in journalism: check the story, check the facts, check the source,” Angus said.
Also, President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs Funke Egbemode, said fake news is sophisticated and deliberate.
“Fake news kills, it destroys and people just like watching. Those who peddle it just like watching things being destroyed,” Egbemode submitted.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has proposed a Fake News Prohibition act in the country.
The police made the proposal during the fake news conference.
Decrying the spate of fake news in Nigeria, Abayomi Shogunle, head, Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit at the Force Headquarters, said such laws will curb circulation of fake news on social media.
“Should the Freedom of Expression cover fake news? My answer is no.
“Do we need a legislation to fight fake news? My answer is yes.
“And, I believe in Nigeria, we are still not doing enough to fight fake news.
“There should be Fake News Prohibition Act; not just the Cyber Crime Act. There should be Fake News Prohibition Act,” he reiterated.