ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Combating fake news and false information online [ICT Clinic]

One thing that I have always done via this column is to clearly state the fact that although technology is awesome, it has also brought about some of the biggest challenges that we are constantly confronted with, one of which is fake news.

Fake news has become a menace across the world. A few weeks ago, the BBC published a six-part report that shares multiple examples of how fake news, fueled through social media, has brought about the death and maiming of some Nigerians. This is also the case in India as well as in different parts of the world. The world is now at a crossroads. Yes, technology and all its other add-on such as social media are great but how do we collectively deal with this ugly challenge of fake news – it is indeed a challenge that we must confront collectively.

Mozilla, the organisation behind the famous Firefox browser sent a mail to users a few days ago and here is an excerpt: ‘Trust in our media and social institutions is quickly eroding and threatening how our democracies function. At its heart is the growing problem of misinformation and disinformation, spreading in large part on the Internet. Social media platforms and policy makers are struggling to get their heads around the scope of the problem — or imagine solutions.’

On the issue of eroding trust in our media and social institutions, I see this happening almost on a daily basis on social media. In the last couple of days, I have seen a highly respected brand like Channels TV that has over the years shown commitment to the journalism and professionalism being attacked viciously. I am not stopping anyone from airing their opinions but the act and strategy of peddling false information that can’t be proven all in the name of expressing one’s freedom of speech is highly condemnable. I have said it previously on this column and I wish to reiterate that I work closely with the Chairman, Channels TV, Mr John Momoh, and I can say one thing for sure: he will not allow himself or the brand he has worked so hard and tirelessly to build be rubbished in anyway, by anyone. People may have certain views and opinions, but it will be unfair to employ underhand tactics, all in a bid to hurt the reputation of a patriot, who has worked extremely hard to build a credible media brand.

Well, the challenge of fake news is that anyone can become a victim. This includes a man or woman that, hitherto, had no blemish whatsoever. Last week, Facebook organised a two-day event that — Finish Reading on the Punch