Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, says the deliberate publication of false information especially via social media poses a greater threat than insurgency and militancy.
According to him, to the extent that fake news has the potency of setting people against one another on the basis of religion and ethnicity, there was the need to put the phenomenon in check.
‘‘We must pay adequate attention to communication strategy and have our own people who will be very active also on social media. It is a front that has been largely neglected, which we must now pay special and adequate attention to.
“Regrettably, fake news is circulated worldwide through the means of the social media and it travels faster.”
‘‘Regrettably, fake news is circulated worldwide through the means of the social media and it travels faster,’‘ he added.
He enumerated instances where Nigeria has had to fight fake news. A report that Nigeria was the most difficult place for Christians to live, that the Army was arming Fulani herdsmen to attack other people and news relating to killing of members of a pro-Biafra group.
‘‘All these news are unfounded, fake and have the capacity to set one religion or group against the other,’‘ he added.
The Minister was speaking at a National Security Seminar organized by the Nigerian army in the administrative capital, Abuja. The program was under the theme, ‘‘Consolidating on the Gains of Counter terrorism Operations in Nigeria.’‘
Africa’s most populous nation is suffering from insurgency by Boko Haram in the northeast and militancy by aggrieved groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The Army is involved in fighting both groups in the respective regions.
Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news) deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.
Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain.