As part of its deliberate effort to combat the menace of false information and hate speech in the public domain, the International Press Centre on Wednesday launched an iVerify platform that will enable Nigerians to decipher facts from falsehood thereby mitigating the menace of misinformation, disinformation and fake news. At the project launch which was
As part of its deliberate effort to combat the menace of false information and hate speech in the public domain, the International Press Centre on Wednesday launched an iVerify platform that will enable Nigerians to decipher facts from falsehood thereby mitigating the menace of misinformation, disinformation and fake news.
At the project launch which was attended by media stakeholders, Non-Governmental Civil Society Organisations, International Organisations, Editors, media managers, and other relevant actors, the audience were informed that the platform will also enhance the media’s capacity to spot false information on social media and deal with it.
Managed by IPC in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the iVerify project has already begun in some other African countries before becoming operational in Nigeria.
Welcoming the participant to the project launch, and explaining the essence of the iVerify project to the media and information atmosphere in Nigeria, Mr Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of IPC noted that the platform was established to correct the phenomenon of information disorder exemplified by rising disinformation, misinformation, mal-information and hate speech, especially in the electoral and democratic processes.
He further added that to achieve such a purpose, IPC has trained 80 journalists across the country in the past weeks on how to Fact-check and verify information before reporting to end the promotion of false information both in electoral periods and in governance.
Explaining the further plans to widen the horizon of the iVerify project, Mr Arogundade maintained that the organization intends to train over 1000 journalists in the country, to enhance their capacities on media literacy and information sharing especially before the next general elections in 2027.
He concluded by encouraging media practitioners and political stakeholders to join forces together against fake news in the country by verifying information before sharing. “It is equally important for us to demand that the political parties, those elected to power on their platforms at all levels of government, and those appointed to serve as Ministers and Commissioners, should desist or refrain from engaging in the spread of false information.
Those among them who are found guilty of disinformation, misinformation, and malformation should also be held accountable for their actions. Doing this would mean that we have agreed to adopt a holistic approach to fighting information disorder,” he said.
Speaking on the rising spate of information disorder in society, Mr Matthew Alao, the UNDP Nigeria Team Lead, Governance, Peace, Security who represented the Nigeria Head of the UNDP, Mr. Lealem B. Dinku noted that the UNDP partnered with IPC to work against false information and hate speech.
He noted that the UNDP is aware that the iVerify platform will further drive the March against misinformation and disinformation beyond the regular rhetoric. He encouraged the stakeholders and political actors to rely on the platform to mitigate the spread of false information in society. “We must all rally around it to ensure its success through moral, financial and technical support. We implore all stakeholders and professionals present here this morning to make use of this platform to fact-check any doubtful information especially on election, governance and democracy before disseminating or sharing. Once fake news or any Information disorder is discovered, it is proper and fit to alert the platform for verification and appropriate response.
“The spate of information disorder must be checked. This is what the iVerify Nigeria project sets out to achieve. We must all rally round it to ensure its success through moral, financial and technical support. We implore all stakeholders and professionals present here this morning to make use of this platform to fact-check any doubtful information especially on election, governance and democracy before disseminating or sharing. Once fake news or any Information disorder is discovered, it is proper and fit to alert the platform for verification and appropriate response”, Mr Alao noted.
Looking at the danger of hate speech and how it undermines the democratic process in Nigeria, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Yakubu Mahmood, represented by the Mary Nkem, INEC’s Acting Director, Voter Education and Publicity called on the public stakeholders and media experts to avoid the proliferation of hate speech in the country.
He added that “Hate speech can fuel social divisions and exacerbate tensions within communities. When politicians or public figures use hate speech to inflame prejudices and spread hostility, it can lead to a breakdown of social cohesion, trust, and unity. This can create a poisonous political environment and hinder constructive dialogue and cooperation among diverse groups.
“Hate speech has the potential to incite violence and discrimination against targeted groups. By dehumanizing or demonizing certain communities, hate speech can provoke hostility and aggression, leading to acts of harassment, intimidation, and even physical violence. In the context of an electoral process, this can disrupt the peaceful conduct of elections and pose a threat to the safety and security of individuals and communities.
“The proliferation of hate speech in the electoral process can erode public trust in democratic institutions, including the electoral system, political leadership, and the media. When people are exposed to inflammatory and divisive rhetoric, they may become disillusioned with the fairness and integrity of the electoral process, leading to a decline in voter turnout and civic engagement”, said.
Speaking on the way forward to end hate speech, Ms Nkem called for legalisation of laws against the spread of hate speech. She also urged the politicians to desist from fuelling hateful expressions in their activities. She also advocated for media literacy to combat hate speech in the country.
Meanwhile, panelists who spoke on the role of media and institutional stakeholders in enhancing information integrity, insisted that the role of correcting information disorder lies with media practitioners and journalists.
They also explained that responsible journalism is expected to be focused on the ethics of the profession, and accuracy, adding that this will protect information sanity in the country.
Maureen Chigbo, the President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers buttressed that media practices without factuality and undiluted information is a substandard practice and should not be recognised, indicating that the media’s role as a watchdog to the public must be guide its reputation accordingly.
Similarly, the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Iziguzo also called for co-regulation of media, adding the process should implemented by media experts in conjunction with the government. He said unless such actions are taken, the media might not operate with the guidelines of its expectations, particularly with the increase of social media in the country.