By Patience Ogbodo Iwuagwu.
Bauchi – A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has cautioned against fuelling ethnic religious conflict and killings through the use of social media.
Addressing a press conference at NUJ Secretariat in Bauchi, Mohammed Chiroma Hassan, Programme Officer of CITAD, lamented that the circulation of fake news was behind the series of violence recorded in the country.
He said, “It’s unfortunate that communication issue has been stoking the fire of violence in the country. This is the circulation of fake news, especially in the social media has been fuelling ethno-religious conflicts and killings in the country.
“Amidst recurring loss of life and property in many parts of Nigeria, another serious or rather unnoticed danger is brewing with a wildfire effect; this danger is nothing but circulation of fake press statements/releases that are widely circulated online. An example of this is the purported release by a non-existent group ‘Fulani National Movement (FUNAM)’ claiming to justify reprisal killings because the cows of herders have been killed. We have researched into the so-called movement and it is clear that someone with an interest in stoking the fire of violence is behind the fake association,” he said.
Hassan stated: “Sentiment and selfish agenda has given people the momentum to become information givers while recklessness has encouraged some people to use technology for bad, yes for bad because they manufacture lies and disseminate on websites, groups and pages on Facebook, the effect of these fake updates is that when people read them, they become emotional and sometimes react violently.
“Any careful reader might have noticed various press statements on Jos crisis in circulation. They carry strange names of signatories and associations of certain people, making provocative remarks on the crisis and setting conditions. Rather calm the situation, the statements aggravate it by reinforcing the desire for vengeance,” he said.