The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has lent his voice to the rise of fake news on social media, stating that it would significantly affect the world if not handled.
The minister stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s News Night on Monday.
According to him, “The mix of fake news using social media platforms has now become a cancer that if the world does not take time, it will destroy the world,”
Mohammed said he has always lent his voice on the spread of fake news, reiterating that if not put to check, “the next war will be caused by fake news,” he, therefore, called on relevant stakeholders to collaborate and curb the menace.
“If we do not take the issue of fake news, social media seriously, it will be at our own peril,” the minister noted.
He, however, clarified fears that the Federal Government may want to stifle the media through social media regulation, explaining that stakeholders have always been carried along in the country’s quest to curb fake news.
“The government is setting up a high-powered committee to see how we can make social media more responsible,” he said. “And I want to say this clearly, nobody has the intention of stifling the media.”
He said the #EndSARS protests that the nation witnessed last year was triggered through social media platforms; he said, “It was fake news. Unfortunately, the major players like Twitter and co were supporting this,” he stated.
Mohammed’s comment follows the kidnap case of a Government secondary school in Kagara, Niger State.
He noted that regardless of the fears that the Federal Government might be forced to pay a ransom to ensure the students are released, such plans will not be made by the government to bandits.
“The immediate concern of the Federal Government is to get those students released unharmed,” the minister added. “In doing so, we are going to employ kinetic and non-kinetic. But non-kinetic does not necessarily mean amnesty or ransom. But we would not outrightly say we would not do this or that. But one thing I know the government will not do is pay ransom.”
He added that if the government pays the ransom for the abducted students, it would become a “bad precedent” and give rise to more schoolchildren’s kidnapping.