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WhatsApp launches campaign to tackle false news in Nigeria

By Adeyemi Adepetun
10 December 2021   |   4:03 am
META-owned platform, WhatsApp, has announced the launch of #YouSaid, a campaign to educate people on how to verify information they come across before passing it on, to help reduce the spread of false news in Nigeria.

The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White

• Court dismisses ‘Twitter ban’ suit against FG, fines SERAP N100,000
META-owned platform, WhatsApp, has announced the launch of #YouSaid, a campaign to educate people on how to verify information they come across before passing it on, to help reduce the spread of false news in Nigeria.

The campaign offers tips for WhatsApp users to spot false news and take responsibility in minimising its spread by encouraging people to think carefully and check authoritative sources before deciding to share any information with their friends and family.

WhatsApp Public Policy Lead, Akua Gyekye, commenting on the initiative, said: “At WhatsApp, all personal messages are protected with end-to-end encryption because the safety and security of our users and their messages is important to us.

“While we remain committed to creating a safe space for our users to communicate privately, we encourage everyone to verify any information they receive and confirm whether it is true or false before sharing it with other people.

“Regardless of the person you received the information from, as soon as you share any information, it becomes something people think #YouSaid. Our hope is that this campaign will open up a conversation on the importance of verifying information and thinking carefully about what people read, trust and choose to share.”

The social media platform urged people to look out for messages that look different. “If you receive messages that have such things like misspelled words, wrong dates, awkward layouts, unrelated pictures and web addresses (URLs), it’s a sign that the information could be false,” it stated.

It also urged people to read messages objectively. It appealed: “Don’t let what you think you know get in the way of your judgment. Review the facts yourself before sharing information. Stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue.”

MEANWHILE, a Federal High Court, Abuja, has dismissed a suit filed against the Federal Government for directing television and radio stations to delete their Twitter accounts.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu dismissed the suit for lacking merit and awarded the sum of N100,000 against the plaintiff.

The Incorporated Trustees of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had, in June, filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/496/21, against three defendants.

SERAP sued the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Director-General of NBC and the Minister of Information and Culture as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

The suit followed the order by the NBC, asking all broadcast outfits to immediately suspend patronage of the social media giant after it was banned for violating Nigerian laws.

The group sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government and the regulator from “censoring, regulating, licensing and controlling social media operations and contents by broadcast stations and activities of social media service providers in Nigeria.”

The judge held that the media houses, under which SERAP filed the suit, did not complain about the ban; hence, the plaintiff could not cry more than the bereaved.

He agreed with the defendants that there are other microblogging platforms, like Facebook, through which the plaintiff could express information.

Egwuatu held that when national security is threatened, issues of fundamental human rights take second stage.