The Founder/President of Eagle Crime Awareness and Prevention Initiative (ECAPI) Ambassador Samuel Eniola, JP, bares his mind at the one-day symposium for Journalists organised by Lagos State Police Command with the theme: 2023 Election, Fake News, and Implications on Security.
The event was held on Thursday 12th January 2023 at the Lagos Police Officers’ Mess to address the implications of fake news on security and society at large.
Eagle Crime Awareness and Prevention Initiative (ECAPI) is an organisation saddled with the responsibility of advocating for a crime-free society for all in partnership with various law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.
Guest Speaker, Amb. Samuel Eniola, JP said: “Social media technically has virtually turned everyone into a journalist, reporter, and publisher via access to the internet with both genuine and fake information which has damaging effects on the people’s psyche, and also a threat to our Nation’s Security.
“Fake news is false and misleading information or narrative, it could also be an instrument of propaganda as well as information disorder. Fake news can create unnecessary tension and breakdown of law and order which in turn truncate the peace of the citizens and the society at large.
Ambassador Samuel Eniola highlights the effect of fake news and how to curb it
TYPES OF FAKE NEWS
Dr. Claire Wardle of American University, breaks fake news into three categories which are as follows:
Many of us fall within this category of wanting to break the news first in the name of cutting, pasting, and posting while unknowingly misinforming many without proper verification of what we are sharing and its damaging effect on the polity with so much distorted information. Most people within this category meant no harm and might not even be aware of the implications of spreading such unverified/fake news but as it were, there is no ignorance in law. So we must all be careful.
This category of fake news is deliberately spread and it is meant to achieve certain ulterior motives or deliberately cause disorder in society through such manipulative information which is a threat to peace
This category of fake news is considered to be true but mostly spread in a malicious manner and distorted in its context in order to change the original narrative or facts of the matter.
EFFECT OF FAKE NEWS ON SECURITY AS THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION APPROACHES
It is imperative for us to know that fake news is nothing but the evil of creating unnecessary tension in society with the sole aim of changing people’s beliefs and orientations towards a particular situation.
Often times, fake news has instigated violence which in turn created security threats and challenges to the Nation e.g. ENDSARS protest where malicious news was spread on the Lekki imbroglio which later caused security breaches in the Nation.
However, Nigerian Politicians are the most desperate anywhere in the whole world that will stop at nothing to achieve their selfish aims. As we journey towards the 2023 election come February, the political atmosphere is already getting charged and the polity is being heated up by their activities and engagements. They are in a race to outsmart one another by every means humanly possible with social media being the most instrument at hand to fight dirty.
The use of propaganda as a weapon of political destruction and character assassination with so much misinformation and fake news against one another is being maliciously spread which if not checked will cause tension everywhere which can lead to violence and break down of law and order. Fake news before, during, and after elections, as it were has been a major challenge or threat to the security of our Nation with confidence reduction in the mindset of the innocent citizens.
HOW TO VERIFY A FAKE NEWS
It is important that we must be conscious and very sure of any news we intend to share so as not to cause a security breach. The following points can as well be noted for news verification:
•Consider the source
•Verify the news
•Check the author
•Check the date
•Read carefully before spreading
•Check various comments
THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA/JOURNALISTS
It is of note that most journalists too engage in spreading unverified news either deliberately or otherwise. It could be as a result of trying to embarrass the Government in a way, wanting to be the first to break particular news without proper due diligence or having sympathy for a particular political party or candidate and thus maliciously dishing out misinformation which could pose a security threat to the peace of the society and may also cause electoral violence among supporters and politicians.
In view of the above, journalists must see themselves as change agents working in synergy with the Police towards ensuring news posted should be in its right perspective in order not to jeopardize the peace and Electoral process of the 2023 elections which is not negotiable and with a symposium like this between the police and journalists, it is obviously a way forward.
CHECK ON FAKE NEWS
All stakeholders and appropriate agencies must rise up to counter the evil of fake news as an instrument of political warfare and propaganda in the forthcoming election. This is because it portends danger to the security of the Nation if left unchecked in the name of freedom of expression without limit. The media/journalist must purge themselves of untrained and fake journalists with uncensored news reportage while Government should as well take steps to guide and regulate the social media space to curb fake news as being done in countries like; Uganda, China, and Russia among others.
ECAPI President concludes by saying, “I appreciate and commend the organisers of today’s symposium for the opportunity to address this unique gathering and I enjoined us all to always verify any news and as well weigh its security implications on our Nation’s policies, particularly as we approach 2023 elections for Peace and a more secured environment for all.