The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has described fake news as a threat to National security and wants a collaboration of media stakeholders to seek ways of curbing its menace. He spoke at the 6th Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) urging the group to lead a
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has described fake news as a threat to National security and wants a collaboration of media stakeholders to seek ways of curbing its menace.
He spoke at the 6th Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) urging the group to lead a network of stakeholders to curb the menace being engineered by unpatriotic Nigerians.
His words: “We must continue to work together against the spread of misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes”.
Fake news and hate speech present a common feature of media abuse which portends compelling consequences for media and the society. The internet offers wide range of online channels for communication. Unfortunately, uncontrolled usage of online platforms create room for information abuse which undermines integrity of the media.
Professor Yakubu noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cherishes the support of the online media. “We do not take our partnership with GOCOP for granted as a stakeholder and dependable ally in sustaining and deepening our democracy”.
With the commencement of campaigns in public by political parties, which started on Wednesday 28th September 2022, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commence campaigns, rallies, processions, and media advertisement to canvass the support of the electorate, and this is when the media should be careful and be watchful of fake news.
Delivering a speech titled “2023 Elections: Managing the Process for Credible Outcome.”, Professor Yakubu stated that INEC valued the support of the internet media and reminded the publishers that voting was still a multi-stakeholder exercise.
“As the Commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcome is the responsibility of all of us.
“As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player.
“We must continue to work together against the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes,” he said.
According to him, the media must lead a network or alliance of stakeholders to curb fake news engineered by unpatriotic individuals. “Fake news is a threat to national security and all hands must be on deck to check it. Managing this process requires in part, concerted efforts.
“We have noticed that your members have so far steered clear of fake news. We urge you to do more. GOCOP should come out strongly in the battle against fake news which is clearly a challenge to the electoral process going forward.
“We are happy to note that you have your peer review mechanism using your leaders to regularly remind every member of the need for credible journalism.
“This is highly commendable. We urge you to extend this beyond GOCOP to serve as a bulwark against the menace of fake news,” he said.
Quite often, purveyors of fake news and hate speech with far-reaching negative consequences and unquantifiable damages are unqualified online users such as bloggers, social media influencers including the growing clan of ‘citizen journalists’ who are by no means trained journalists
To stem the untoward development the media will need to do more of fact-checking and strengthen media ethics using appropriate codes which essentially relate to imperatives for good journalistic conduct and practices and underscore principles of ethical journalism.