The Federal Government, on Wednesday, in Abuja, launched a national campaign against fake news in the country.
The government said the essence of the campaign was to sensitize all Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, and the corporate existence of Nigeria by the phenomenon.
Speaking during the launch in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said there was an epidemic sweeping the world, saying that if left unchecked, it could be worse than all the plagues that the world has recorded put together.
Mohammed added that the development was a clear and present danger to global peace and security, even as he said it is a threat to democracy.
“It is the epidemic of Fake News. Mixed with hate speech, it is a disaster waiting to happen.
“For the media, the epidemic is even worse. This is because fake news, in most cases designed to misinform, undermines confidence in the media. And once the people lose confidence in the media, the society is in trouble,” Mohammed said.
Speaking further, Mohammed made reference to the free online encyclopaedia which defined fake news as ‘a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.
“This false information is mainly distributed by social media, but is periodically circulated through mainstream media.
“Let’s be straight. Fakes news is not new. It is said to be as old as the printing press. What has made it an issue of concern is the means and speed at which it is now spread around the world, and that means is the social media. Anyone with a phone and internet access can author and make fake news go viral in minutes.
With the number of mobile phone users in the world expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019, you can see the kind of crisis we face,” Mohammed added.
On the impact of fake news, Mohammed said the global epidemic of Fake News is already having far-reaching repercussions across the world.
He added that a recent study by researchers at the Ohio State University in the United States concluded that Russian interference and the fake news it promoted probably played a significant role in depressing Hilary Clinton’s support on election day during the 2016 United States presidential election.