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Deutsche Welle, LASU Radio holds debate on fake news

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An international media company, Deutsche Welle (DW) in partnership with the African Youth Platform (AYF), recently held debate themed “Fake News,” at Lagos State University (LASU) radio 95.7 studio.

The programme, moderated by DW’s Wanjiku Mwaura and a staff of LASU radio, Arewa Agbolade, had in attendance the convener of #EndSARS, Segun Awosanya popularly known as Segalink; the Head of Digital, The Guardian Newspaper, Lolade Nwanze; the Deputy Editor of Africa Check, Motunturayo Joel; and the President of Communication Students’ Association, Funmi Akanishelle.

The German company organised the programme to help reduce the spread of fake news in Africa and Nigeria specifically, in view of the recent case of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria. It was noted that fake news spreads when people don’t know what the details are about.

The speakers narrated the most ridiculous stories they have heard about the coronavirus, they mentioned cases like blacks are immune to coronavirus, garlic can cure corona and fake Uber alarmist stories. 

Nwaeze believes that the institutional gap and lack of transparency give room to fake news. 
 
Joel suggested that the government should set up a fact-checking arm, engage digital-savvy youth and be active online to check fake news, but Nwanze was against the creation of a fact-checking arm. She argued that it is not necessary, as the government is already online and its presence is managed by youths.

She said: “What we need is digital literacy, we need to educate people on the consequences of putting out fake information. You cannot stop people from tweeting. If you show them the consequences, they will be more responsible.”

Awosanya, on his part, maintained that “we use of social media to engage ourselves, know what is really happening and place ourselves in strategic positions to respond to some of these social-political issues because they are affecting the future of our children. 

He gave an insight into what causes fake news, “If you don’t feel among the society you will do something to put that spotlight on you. Emotions sometimes outweigh the fact, how do you convince people that already have something they want to be true. We deal with skeptics and cynics, skeptics want to be convinced, the cynics would not listen to facts”. 
   
He reiterated, “There is no prize to be the first to break stupid news. We need to educate ourselves that is what I mean by responsibility

Nwanze, further explained that sometimes it is not the people’s fault when fake news is shared, “You need to constantly tell people what you are up to, when you leave gaps, people will fill it. People need to know where to go”.

She lamented that the contacts provided by the government were of little or no use, she mentioned that one Ikem whose contact was shared with the public is no longer with the ministry, the director of media does not pick his calls, making it hard to get credible information.

Funmi emphasised on the credibility of trusted news outlets, both in their traditional form and online. Wanjiku Mwaura pointed out that Facebook and Instagram have a feature that suggests if you want to get more information about the coronavirus and take you in the right direction, like WHO and trusted news outlets.  


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