Fake News: deliberate, destructive and a likely cause of World War 3 – Soyinka

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The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka described fake news at a
One-day conference organised by BBC World Service yesterday as deliberate,
destructive and a likely cause of World War 3.

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Soyinka said “I’ve said this before that fake news may cause
World War III and the fake news will be started by a Nigerian.”

He added that he’s been killed countless times on the
internet and “I actually enjoy reading my own obituary.

“Those who create fake news are sick in the head and they
are also cowards because they lack the conviction of their own beliefs and so
they transfer to others what they are thinking.”

As a means to curb this menace, the Nobel laureate called
for the criminalization of fake news.

He said “We need to accept the fact that fake news is real
and it should be treated as a crime. There are already existing laws to
prosecute offenders of fake news in the country.”

Also present at the symposium was Vice-President, Yemi
Osinbajo who in his keynote address narrated a scenario where fake news almost
led to a marital dispute.

Osinbajo said, “I have been one of the targets of fake news.

“It can also sometimes cause you marital peace. I got a call
from my wife about three or four weeks ago and she said Yemi, what are you
doing with strippers? And I said what do you mean by strippers? So, I read a
story in a famous blog that said, ‘Osinbajo caught with strippers’.

“And there was a photograph of me sitting between two
perfectly clothed ladies but underneath this picture, the same ladies were not
wearing much.

“In fact-checking the photographs with these two ladies at
an entertainment event were taken when they were perfectly clothed but by the
time the story was put out, it was as though I had taken a photo with them at
the time they were not clothed at all.

“As it turns out, I wasn’t in the picture of where they were
not wearing clothes but just the caption, the stories and all that gave the
impression that here I was in the company of these ladies at a point when they
were doing their business. I think the capacity of fake news to cause great
harm is not in doubt at all.”

BBC World Service Group

It can also be noted that the INEC body was not an exception
to fake news as recently, the PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan sounded the alarm
that the electoral body had appointed President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece, Amina
Zakari, to announce results of the 2019 presidential elections.”

However the INEC’s national commissioner, Festus Okoye
debunked this as he said that Zakari’s role as head of the collection center
committee has nothing to do with collation of votes.

Meanwhile, the president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors
and the Editor-in chief of the New Telegraph newspaper, Funke Egbemode, urged
journalists to make sure that before publishing they verify stories and claims.

Similarly, the founder of Bella Naija, Uche Pedro urged the
authorities to make use of technology in the dissemination of information to
the public.

The symposium was tagged: “Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake
News”, this was organised in a bid to seek solutions to the menace of fake news
ahead of the 2019 general election.

The Director, BBC World Service Group, James Angus paid
accolades to Nigeria’s  relentless
national and regional media and he also disclosed plans by the organization to
counter fake news in Nigeria particularly during the elections.

He said “As the internet becomes ever more accessible
with cheap smart phones and free data, and as free Apps that can mimic mouths,
voices and facial expressions become more sophisticated and freely available
…the challenge will grow; fakes will become harder to spot, the ‘cloning of President
Buhari’ is just a taste of what armchair deep fakers will be able to achieve.

“The BBC will be doing fact checking around claims made
during the election campaign. Our African digital teams have been learning
about specialist data journalism techniques, in order to deliver fact checks on
health, education and the economy.

“A lot of what we can do to fight fake news is to use
the basic tools of journalism – check the story, check the facts, check the
source.”

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