Fake News Could Trigger Third World War – Pantami

The Federal Government has said clickbait might be what prompted the recent security alert by some embassies in Nigeria. Clickbait refers to content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.

Following the development, the government has, again, assured Nigerians and foreigners alike that the military and other security agencies are doing everything humanly possible to secure them.

MEANWHILE, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, has warned that fake news could trigger Third World War, noting that untrue reports pose a serious threat to the nation’s security and economy.

He pleaded with the media to be in the vanguard of fighting misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.

Addressing a Ministerial Panel on Media and Information Literacy Framework at the ongoing Global Media and Information Literacy Week, yesterday, in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who boasted that the country was safer, added that terrorists had been hard hit and bandits decimated.

He observed: “One would imagine that if indeed this kind of security alert was issued, it was for the attention of citizens of the issuing countries in Nigeria. Suddenly, this alert found its way into the media, both new and traditional, thus, creating panic in the polity. Schools were shut. Businesses were closed. Travel plans were altered. Lives were disrupted. No one cared to find out about the authenticity of these alerts. They just published, got the benefit of massive clickbait and damned the consequences.

“Our country is safer today than at any time in recent times, thanks to the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. We do not discountenance the fact that terrorists, bandits and their kind would always want to do whatever it takes to disrupt our nation’s peace, security, and stability. But our security forces have been proactive. Nigerians too should continue to be alert, but must not panic. Like I said in a recent statement, as far as insecurity is concerned, the worst is over for Nigeria.”

The minister noted that the deliberate spread of fake news has become more prevalent with the ease of access to connectivity over the digital space, stressing that there is available and affordable technology/software that can be used to distort digital content (audio, visual, and images) such as Photoshop, deep fake and voiceover software readily available as open source/free or paid apps on the Internet.

Mohammed said there is a ray of hope, as telecommunications companies increasingly deploy technologies to check the spread of disinformation on their platforms.

He added that there is the availability of technology through text and reverse image search engines to decipher and verify such content.

“The recognition of the danger that disinformation poses to our national wellbeing as we strive to nurture our democracy led us, as an administration, to dedicate the National Council on Information, in 2017, to issues of disinformation and hate speech. We followed that up with the launch of the National Campaign Against Fake News in 2018, and then advocacy visits to media organisations. The essence of the campaign, which is ongoing, is to sensitise our fellow citizens on the ills of fake news and the need to curb its spread. I can tell you that while we have not succeeded in ending the flow of fake news, we have made progress in sensitising Nigerians to the danger it poses and how to curb it,” Mohammed clarified.

The Guardian

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