CITIZENS COMPASS – LAST Tuesday, a section of the media was awashed with ‘breaking news’ circulating online that President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of former Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, AIG Hakeem Odumosu, as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Within seconds, the former police commissioner was said to be bombarded with all sorts of calls either to congratulate him or verify the information.
Few minutes later, Odumosu deemed it fit to debunk this via various channels.
This is one out of thousands of misleading information which have plunged the globe particularly Nigeria into crises.
In its literal view, fake news is information that is not certified to be genuine.
Similarly, an average Nigerian may have been a victim of cyber crime either consciously or unconsciously as many have lost fortune to cyber crimes.
In 2022, a survey revealed that, 71 per cent of Nigerian businesses were hit with ransomware, up from 22 per cent in 2020.
An example was a woman (names withheld) who recently lost millions of Naira to cyber crime.
To curb the menace of fake news particularly in Nigeria, the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), led by its President, Mr Samson Oki, organized a one day workshop on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, calling on media practitioners to ”destroy the menace before it destroys us.”
The event took place in Ikeja area of Lagos State.
The workshop drew the likes of Oba Adeoye, Founder JounrnalismNG, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, Spokesperson, Lagos State Police Command, representing, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Force PRO who was the Keynote Speaker., Dr. Kunle Hamilton, Media Consultant, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Dr. Cynthia Greg, MD, Safety Signatures, Supt. Route Commander Olabisi Sonusi, Public Education Officer, FRSC, Mr. Damilare Adewusi from Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor, Head, Communications and Brand Management, Unity Bank Plc and Mrs Titilayo Ogunluyi, Deputy Commander, NDLEA Lagos Command among others as speakers.
According to them, fake news always spread fast on the Internet and this brought about the workshop.
The workshop with theme, ‘Role of Media, Security agencies in curbing fake news, cyber threat and sundry security challenges; Need to destroy menace before it destroys us,” had it’s take
as needs for media practitioners to equip themselves with knowledge in order to easily Differentiate authentic information from fake.
It was rounded off with a panel discussion questions and answers segment.
It affords participants to network and got answers to various questions bothering them.
In his Keynote address, the Police spokesperson, who spoke on the security aspect of the programme ,urged participants to always verify information before publication.
Adejobi said curbing the menace of fake news will improve security services in Nigeria and achieve peace.
He applauded NAOSNP for its impact in guiding against fake news in the country.
According to him, “Fake news will not do us any good. If we can fight it, security will improve and we will be able to cover some feats,” he said.
He made references to the immediate Media Aid to the past government who via his twitter handle spread the fake news about the EFCC appointment of the former AIG and urged practitioners to desist from such in their interest.
He said there are ethics guiding the media profession and the Police are there to effect arrest where necessary. “In terms of fake news, why don’t we prosecute erring media houses? Yes, we do. There are sanctions though we don’t reveal this so as not to disrupt investigations.
On how to stop the spread of fake news, he said,” The most fiscal player is the media which is powerful to shape opinions. There is need to play the very important role.” Said the spokesperson.
He said the media, influential people, security aid and National Orientation Agencies have vital role to play in curbing the menace.
In his presentation, Oba Adeoye highlighted the role of the media and security agencies in mitigating the threats of fake news.
According to him, the role of the media includes responsible reporting, and credibility strategies among others.
In the area of security, Adeoye lamented the rise of cyber crime in Nigeria calling on security agencies to protect individuals and organisations from cyber attacks.
He called for effective collaboration between the media and security agencies.
The Publisher tasked stakeholders to take responsibility in reducing security threats in Nigeria. “Nigeria, like many other countries, is faced with the challenge of dealing with fake news, cyber security , and other security threats. The proliferation of social media platforms has made it easier for individuals and groups to disseminate false information, which can lead to social unrest and other negative consequences. “Cyber security threats, such as hacking, phishing, and ransomware attacks, have also become more prevalent in Nigeria, with individuals and organizations falling victim to these attacks. Other security threats in Nigeria includes terrorism, kidnapping, and armed – robbery, which have been of major concern for the security agencies in the country.
“As a result, there is need for collaboration between the media and security agencies to mitigate these threats and ensure the safety and security of Nigerians,” said the speaker.
He described fake news as, “false or misleading information presented as news.” Fake news often has the aim of damaging the reputation of persons or entity, or making money through advertising revenue,”
He said fake news may come in different forms depending on its intention,” There are many different types of fake news, but some of the most common include:
“Fabricated content: This is content that is completely made up, with no basis in reality.
He cited examples to be,” Misleading content, false context, imposter content and manipulated content among others.
“Fake news can be spread through variety of channels, including social media, email and even traditional news outlets,” Said the publisher.
Speaking about cyber security threats, he Saudi, “Cyber security threats refer to any malicious and intentional activity that is aimed at compromising the security and integrity of computer systems, networks, or digital devices.
These threats can take many forms and can be carried out by individuals or groups with malicious intent. Some common examples of cyber security threats include malware, phishing attacks, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, password attacks, and hacking.
“We all know about terrorism, kidnapping, and armed robbery. So, we need not waste time defining these ones,” he explained.
On how to curb the menace, he said,” These issues pose serious threat to the country’s security, economy, and democracy.
“Addressing the issues of fake news, cyber security, and other security threats in Nigeria is crucial for several reasons:
” Protection of human lives: Security threats such as terrorism, kidnapping, and armed robbery pose direct threat to the safety and lives of Nigerians. Addressing these threats is critical to ensuring the protection of human lives.” He added.
At the panel discussion, Dr Greg called on practitioners to adopt investigative journalism before chunning out their reports, ” every space can be regulated through profiling of persons who want to occupy the space. You and I have a role to play in the type of Information we pass across to Nigerians. No matter what, journalism is still a profession that worths it especially for people who have studied it. Regulation is the key word in this regard. “She said.
Also at the panel discussion, Hamilton, Sonusi and Adewusi all urged stakeholders to abide by the ethics.
Earlier, NAOSNP President, Mr Samson Oki said the workshop was organized to train participants on best practice.
He said the workshop was Organized for veterans, practicing and younger journalists in order to uphold ethics of the profession. He said,” The event is not just for our members but for veteran , practicing and upcoming journalists, On Air Personalities, bloggers. YouTubers and other practitioners to train and retrain ourselves,”
He admonished practitioners to avoid rushing to the press without verifying information.” When my staff sent me a message about former AIG Odumosu, the first thing I did was to send it to some platforms to authenticate it, In case you cannot reach the person directly, kindly find a way to verify information at your disposal rather than rushing to the press.” Said the President.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the workshop, Oki said the workshop was the second in the annals of the association,”This is the second workshop organized by NAOSNP. The first one was in 2022 where over 100 practitioners were in attendance while the 2023 one was attended by over 208 practitioners from print, online and electronic media.