The Inaugural Lecture of the Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria (GPBN) on combating fake news in the cyberspace has been described as a boost to Federal Government’s fake news campaign in the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who was the Special Guest of Honour at the Lecture and unveiling of members of the Bloggers’ Guild in Lagos noted, “Your interest in the issue of fake news, is another big achievement for the campaign”.
Alhaji Mohammed who applauded the initiative expressed delight at the bold step of professional bloggers to come together to tackle the menace of fake news in the cyberspace also pointed out saying, “social media in particular bloggers, are critical to any effort to check the menace of fake news”
The minister pledged government’s support to the Guild saying, “We look to you to continue to play a major role in the national efforts to combat fake news and we are willing to work with you in this regard”.
He described the war against fake news as “a must win” noting, “ As a multi-ethnic, multi religious nation, Nigeria cannot afford an unbridled spread of fake news”.
Continuing, he said, “This phenomenon is exploiting our fault lines to aggravate the crises in the country”.
The Minister reiterated that the federal government would not gag any media outfit to curtail the incidence of fake news but said, “there are enough laws in our books to fight this phenomenon”
He warned Nigerians to always fact check the authenticity or otherwise of any social media information whether on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp before sharing.
In her address at the event, Head of Department, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika who was the chair, described the power of the media as very potent “to influence any narrative as created by its owners”.
According to the first female professor of mass-communication in UNILAG, “This is done with an expected outcome in mind”.
She therefore warned, “As a result of its importance, stakeholders in the industry must daily ensure to uphold the ethics of the profession.
“The fourth estate of the realm must never relent in its quest of being the watchdog of the society. This duty of the media is one that cannot be underestimated. In this era of social media, it behooves on the media to ensure that their platforms are not compromised, no matter the cost involved. Journalist, bloggers, content creators, social media managers must begin to work together to ensure the fight against fakes is won ultimately”.
In his welcome address, President of the GPBN, Chris Kehinde Nwandu explained why the Guild was formed saying, “Many people come into Blogging, some trained Journalists and some simply, out of interest because of passion to write and feed the public with information.
“But one thing that is not negotiable is, the fact that the public must be fed with accurate and factually correct information and not fabrications or falsehood called “fake news”.
“There was therefore the realization that there is a vacuum which needed to be filled and that is, a need to have an umbrella body to regulate the activities of Bloggers in the country”.
Nwandu called on the relevant government agencies to see to the registration of the body as efforts in recent past to register the Guild with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have not been successful.
Other notable speakers at the event such Corporate Affairs Adviser, Nigeria Breweries Plc, Kufre Ekanem, commended the birth of the Guild at such a time saying, “GPBN will definitely separate the grains from the shaft and it will surely bring some confidence into the system”
He however urged members of the Guild to remain above board in setting ethical standards not only for its members “but on how the profession should be practiced setting global best practices.
The Managing Partner Technology Advisor ICT Lawyers, Basil Udotai warned members of the Guild against exploiting the use of digital Technology in spreading unwholesome news “which are capable of causing wars, destroying nations and mankind”.
He urged members to always avail themselves of the various Laws and ensure they fact check correctly before publishing “as the Laws are quite potent when applied to deal with cybercrimes”, he warned.