Following the trends to which fake news is tilting toward, the Guild of Professional Bloggers (GPBN) Just concluded its inaugural lecture on how a lasting solution can be achieved for efficiency in the news and developing stories on social media and the online space.
This, it did in an event it organised at Radisson Blu Hotel at Ikeja yesterday with Theme: “Combating Fake News in The cyberspace” and that which saw in attendance, Lai Mohammed, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika Head of Department Mass Communication University of Lagos, Basil Udotai, Kola Ologbodiyan, represented by Richard Ihediwa, Nasir Ramon Olarewaju, Head External Affairs (UBA) and Kufre Ekanem of the Nigeria Brewery
The president of the guild, Chris Kehinde Nwandu in his opening speech, narrates his ordeal after sharing a particular story on his Facebook platform where told the audience how sordid was his experience.
Nwandu: "There was never a time he had about cybercrime law until when he shared facebook story from a friend and was arrested and charged with cybercrime".
“The story in question was not originally written by me, all I did was to make a comment on the post on my facebook wall with some accompanying pictures to back it up as what I saw was not harmless but was a sincere story”.
“I was arrested by the Nigeria police state financial fraud (SFU) units and charged under cybercrime law before justice Yinusa of the federal high court located at Ikoyi”.
“I was charged for spreading fake News, although according to him, the case was later withdrawn and that he was later discharged and acquitted but not after he had spent eighteen days 18 as an inmate, he added!
“That incident got me thinking, that I began to ask myself how many people, especially online writers know about cybercrime law and its provision in other to avoid them falling prey as I just did, he Asked?”
Continuing, Nwandu told the audience that even his lawyer at that time was not in the know that there exist cybercrime laws, saying it was from that moment he as an individual got the knowledge that indeed there exist cybercrime laws.
“At that time, there are many coming into blogging, some trained journalists and some simply out of interest because of passion to write and feed the public with information”
He said what is not negotiable is the fact that the public must be feed with accurate and factually correct information and not fabrication or falsehood called “Fake News”
“It was therefore inevitable after realising that there was a vacuum which needed to be filled and that which justifies the need to have an umbrella body to regulate the activities of bloggers in the country”
'' back in 2015, that was the danger he saw and that if the emerging trends at that time continue, without being nipped on bud, the challenges of fake news will remain unabated”
“This was how few of us came together to brainstorm on what to do and in 2016, the foundation of the Guild was formally laid and since then, the building is ongoing for a very solid future structure”
He said professionalism in mass communication cannot be set aside adding that setting up of the guild, the social media industry is gradually being sanitized, urging the government to play an active role in supporting the body in reality
A university Don and chairperson of the event, Prof Ogwezzy-Ndisika told bloggers that it is indeed the best platform where the solution to fake news can be found saying ‘Let Fight Fakes Together, whilst urging online media to practice journalism from an informed perspective”
Ndisika said stakeholders in the industry must ensure to uphold the ethics of the profession adding that many are turning to social media for several reasons
Citing an example, she said most of Nigeria’s presidential aspirants declare their intention on social media
"On 2019 general elections and fake news, the university Don said there was hate speech in 2015 where fake news is spread by leaders, candidates and citizens through the use of media.
“As the election draws near, I strongly advocate an issue-based campaign, as these will rise above an individualistic approach to campaign”
She urges online media professionals to practice journalism from an informed perspective.
“The craze behind the share button online must be curtailed, before you share that information, please confirm, she added”.
Another special guest at the event, Minister of information Alhaji Lai Mohammed who came a little late behind schedule said the war against fake news is a must win
His words: As a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, Nigeria cannot afford an unbridled spread of fake news
This phenomenon is exploiting our front lines to aggravate crisis in the country
He said one thing that is non-negotiable is the fact that the public must be feed with accurate and factual information and not fabricated or falsehood called news.
There is, therefore, the realization that there was a vacuum which needed to be at the field where one must need the umbrella body to regulate the activities of blogging in the country.
Another speaker, kola Ologbodiyan who was represented by his Special Adviser on media Mr Richard ihediwa was quick to take a swipe at the governing party, the All progressive party (APC) accusing them of peddlers of fake news
He said the party deliberately promoted unsocial vices alongside hate speech.