The National Association of Social Science Students, Ahmadu Bello University Chapter has launched a campaign to draw the attention of youths and students to the danger of fake news on the Social Media.
The campaign was launched at a Public Lecture, with the theme: “Social Media, Fake News and National Unity.”
It was chaired by former Governor Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State and attended by top politicians, scholars, journalists, legal practitioners, youths groups and students.
Speaking on the theme of the Conference, the President of NASSS, Maitala Ilyas Khalifa, said the main aim of the lecture was to fight against fake news among youths and students.
Maitala said: “This campaign is against the creation and the spread of fake news among Nigerians, especially youths and students, who are more prone to the hazards on the social media
“Fake news gives rooms for unethical journalism and sensationalism that could lead to the destruction of life and properties as we are living witness to its havoc elsewhere across the globe.”
In his keynote address at the occasion, the publisher of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, Yushau Abdulhameed Shuaib, said the media landscape with the advent of social media had lost its past glories of factuality and authenticity of reports.
Shuaib said: “In the past, the media provided factual, reliable, truthful and authoritative news that were indisputably factual because the media then adhered strictly to the ethics of journalism with great concern for national security and national interest.”
Speaking on the advent of social media, the publisher said: “The social media landscape is affordable, instant, participatory, global and trackable but unfortunately it is unregulated, manipulative, to the large extent amateurish and untrained bloggers and educated enthusiasts are playing the roles of Social Media influential for the fake news industry.
“Harmless misinformation and deliberate disinformation are the features of fake news that is spread through false information, manipulated photos, outdated videos and mischievous cartoons and satire.
“The collaborators are the culprits which include bias media, partisan public institutions, disgruntled politicians and criminal elements while the main victims include the lazy minds, gullible public, uneducated illiterates and fanatics.
“We must know that Fake news confuses, misinforms, manipulates and fools the target audience by blinding the mind, reinforcing sentiments, inducing mob attacks and triggering fanaticism and extremism.”
To address the issue of fake news on Social Media, Shuaib recommended the use of technology, enactment of appropriate legislation, massive advocacy campaigns and individual consciousness on the danger of fake news on social media.
Also speaking as the Guest of Honour, a renowned legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ustaz Yunusa, called for the amendment to the bill on hate speech to the effect that in the event that hate-speech is made by a journalist or publishing company, the relevant disciplinary provisions of the Nigerian Press Council should be applied.
Ustaz said: “Criticising government or a public official does not constitute hate speech even if it defames the government or public officials whose right is for a civil case of defamation.”
Other dignitaries at the occasion apart from former Yero included the Dean Faculty of Social Science, Professor J. J.. Izah; top politicians; Shuaib Idris Miqati; Jaafaru Saad; Engr. Yusuf Shehu Idris; and representative of traditional institutions.