The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has raised the alarm that the country is losing its value by the day to the scourge of disinformation and fake news.
Pantami made this remark at a Ministerial Panel of the ongoing UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week in Abuja.
In a presentation titled “National Media and Information Literacy Frameworks, Sustaining Beyond Disinformation”, the minister expressed worry about the media hypes of unverified negative information about the country.
He said the trend was affecting the global perception of the country negatively and curtailing investments and growth.
According to him, the advent of new media has aggravated the growing trend of misinformation and fake news and the perception of media globally.
“With new media, everyone has become a Journalist as people now sit in the comfort of their homes and concoct whatever lies they wish, without editorial review or verification and dish it out for public consumption,” the minister said.
He noted that it was unfortunate that people lived in a world where negative news spread like wildfire and was consumed voraciously.
“New media has changed the perception of media globally today and the earlier we realise it and take some steps, the better for all of us.
“The new media makes each and every one of us a ‘self-appointed’ journalist.
“Unfortunately, the fake information we release, 90 per cent (of the time), we will discover that it is indeed a piece of negative news.
“We are living in a society where negative news is consumed with all pleasure; people respect and value negative news more than the positive ones.”
Pantami cautioned that the developed countries that were issuing the unverified security alerts had their own challenge of insecurity, including school shootings but manage it effectively.
To address the challenge, the minister recommended societal re-orientation that would focus more on self-regulation.
He also said that the way and manner people behaved and communicated offline should be reflected in the way they behaved and communicated online.
“We need societal re-orientation which should focus more on self-regulation as much as what we need to do online.
“What is legal and legitimate offline is legal and legitimate online and what is illegal and illegitimate offline must be illegal and illegitimate online.
“So, this online virtual world is an extension of our physical world; how we behave offline should be reflected in how we interact and communicate online.
“Journalists must also wake up to their responsibilities and understand that they practise a noble profession that operates with fairness and objectivity.
“Our experts in the media need to do more, particularly leading by example; this is critical,” Pantami said.
The UK Minister of Technology and Digital Economy, Damian Collins, participated in the session virtually.
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