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Fake News Fueling Ethno-Religious Conflict, Killings In Nigeria

 By Solase Base. 

A nongovernmental organization,  Centre For Information Technology and Development  (CITAD) on Monday  raised alarm over increasing online news platform circulating fake news, images and calling on government to take appropriate action to check the trend.

CITAD said the circulation of fake news and pictures especially on the social media is a contributory factor fueling ethno-religious conflict and killings around the country.

Hate Speech Project Coordinator of the NGO, Hamza Ibrahim stated this on Monday at a news conference held in Kano.

Hamza Ibrahim said the new trend of fake news observed recently is the circulation fake press statements/ releases that are widely circulated online citing example of a non-existing group ,Fulani National Movement (FUNAM) justifying the killing in Plateau state  as a reprisal attack to killing of Cows of Herders which investigation has shown that such organization does not exist at all.

“Sentiment and selfish agenda has given people the momentum to become information –givers while recklessness has encouraged same people to use technology for bad, manufacture lies and disseminate on websites, groups, and pages on Facebook,” said Hamza Ibrahim.

“The effect of these fake news 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 or making demands. Rather than calm the situation down, the statements aggravate it by reinforcing the desire for vengeance in different parties involved.”

He said there is a rise of new wave of online news platform  which are set up to promote violent conflict in the country , noting that another variant of fake news is when Journalists sit down and invent interviews and attribute statements to known or unknown persons.

Hamza Ibrahim advocated measures to curtails the menace that include tracing the source of the websites that promote violence of any kind and bring them to book , subject press releases/statements to various forms of scrutiny in order to validate the authenticity and not promote provocative utterances.

“Taking down websites that are seen to be fuelling crisis amongst people of different religious and tribal backgrounds. Also prosecuting mediums that are found wanting,” said Ibrahim.

He commended media outlets that have consistently shot their doors to hate speech and fake news.

He urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be use as it is clear that politicians profit from the use of hate speech but ultimately it is the citizens and the country that are the losers in this.

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