Social media week: Beaming searchlight on fake news
But the obvious problems being observed on the social media platforms these days are the prevalence of fake news, distorted facts, hate speeches, blackmail and others, capable of plunging the society into undue crisis.
Some social media users have latched on the confidentiality of the platforms to abuse it, by using it to spread fake news, hate speeches and distort facts to suit their selfish desires.
From WhatsApp to Facebook, people often spread fabricated messages or news information, which their sources and motives cannot not be verified or determined.
The trend has been on the increase in Nigeria to the extent that, at the peak of President Muhammadu Buhari’s sick leave, some social media users capitalising on non-disclosure of their identities cloned the website of London-based newspaper Metro Uk to announce Buhari’s demise.
Expectedly, the fake news which, gone viral on social media platforms created panic, fear and confusion in the country. Not even the consistent denials and explanations by the presidential spokesmen could calm the frayed nerves. Many had believed the fake news because of the reputation of the London-based newspaper, without knowing that the story didn’t emanate from it.
Many bloggers in Nigeria without fixed addresses are busy spreading fake news on their blogs, using it to blackmail or rubbish people when they are paid to do so. On several occasions, some of them were arrested, while many are still operating undisturbed.
It is because of the prevalence of fake news on the social media and its capacity to undermine the security of a country that some governments across the world banned the use of it in their countries.
Attempt by Nigerian government to streamline the use of social media was greeted by opposition and criticisms. Efforts are being made by the National Assembly to pass a bill on hate speech, but the question is how far can such a law can go in curtailing the spread of fake news on the social media?.
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