The Federal Government has insisted that it is pushing ahead with its plan to regulate the use of social media in the country, despite criticisms that have trailed the move.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture who said this at a press conference on Thursday said the recent epidemic of fake news on the social media has even made it more imperative to regulate the social media.
“The situation is dire, and no nation that values its peace, security and stability will allow an irresponsible use of the social media,” Mohammed said.
He added that working with stakeholders, his Ministry will in March 2020 inaugurate the stakeholders committee that will deliberate and recommend the way forward.
The Minister added that his Ministry is also planning a major international conference that will bring
together the tech companies, media practitioners, policy makes and others as part of efforts to tackle this growing canker-worm.
Mohammed added that he met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the
same purpose last week.
Mohammed said, “There has been a spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use
of disinformation in recent times This is not accidental: Fake news, disinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice to create tension in the polity and destabilize the country. And those behind it, the naysayers, are not about to relent.
“For some people, the 2019 elections are not over. They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge.
“We have security challenges and we are tackling them head on. There is no question about that. But the challenges are being aggravated by fake news and disinformation, in particular. Those behind this campaign of fake news and disinformation have also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling of old news items and videos.
“A good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia state in 2014. About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity. Their intention is simple: to create tension and panic in the country.
“Other recent instances of fake news:
– that President Muhammadu Buhari will be travelling to the UK for 20
days before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and Austria
– that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was
attacked at the Rigasa train station in Kaduna
– that the Nigerian Air Force killed 250 Boko Haram insurgents.
– that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is planning
to unveil some new ‘communication regulations’ aimed at recording all
calls, monitoring Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook, etc
– Even private individuals have also been victims of this scourge
“We will continue to appeal to Nigerians to be circumspect in believing or circulating these fake news, as we did when we launched our national campaign against fake news in 2018.”