The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has organized a one day session on Story Telling for Digital Safety and Privacy Protection Online. The session started with welcome remarks by Ali Sabo, who also introduced the chairman of the session, Dr. Suleiman Yar’adua (PhD) who is the Director, BUK FM and former HOD, Mass Communications Department, Bayero University, Kano. In his welcome remarks, Mr. Sabo said the essence of the one day story telling session was to listen to the journeys of the trained journalists’ campions and how they put what they learned into practice. He continue to said that the journalists are expected to individually discussed the challenges they faced and successes recorded during the step down training they conducted with support of CITAD.
The chairman of the occasion started by saying that in discussing the issue of safety in digital life, people need to understand that there are a lot of threats and hazard that people introduce online most especially to females. He continue to state that to understand the threats pose by different entities in digital environment, it is important to understand why people are invading other people’s privacy. He however, stated that knowing how to be safe and safeguard ourselves online is very crucial these days in order to counter the many problems associated with online environment.
On his remarks, the Executive Director of CITAD, Malam Y.Z Ya’u, thanked and welcomed the participants to the story telling session. He started by narrating how the journey of the trained journalists campions started where he said that the initiative started with a two day residential training in Gombe then followed by a five day online mentorship and training. In the two trainings, the trained journalists were taken through different aspects of online tools, harassment and the best way to protect oneself from server attacker, stalkers and server bullies. He also said that after the trainings the journalists were empowered with some stipends to step down the training to their respective communities.
The Executive Director went further to say that Safety and privacy of practitioners is very important as the lack of it has pushed many number of journalists to danger. Malam Ya’u also said the importance of the story telling is to hear the stories of the journalists and to collectively discuss. And also the session will serve as a platform opportunity to discuss further the agenda of promoting digital safety and privacy online not just for female journalists but journalists in general.
- Elizabeth Kah Nange: The first speaker was Elizabeth Kah from Bauchi State Television Authority. Narrating her experience, she stated on how she got to know about the training, where she said she only apply for the training because someone sent it to her, but after attending the training, the training opened her mind to the dangers that are associated with online platforms. She said before, she was doing things ignorantly; she was not secure digitally. She continue to said the training helped her realize that she need strong password as before she was using either her birthday or her name as her password, but now realized that she need to develop a strong password and different password in each of her social media platform so that it cannot be tempered with by anyone. “The training also helped me to know how to encode or encrypt my messages, my emails, my Whatsapp and everything”. She added.
Speaking about the stepdown training, Elizabeth said she selected people that were like her, and when she asked them about having a strong password, they were asking why they would have strong password or the need of having a strong password that’s difficult to remember. Narrating further, she said the most interesting thing about the training was how the participants were able to grab and appreciate the training and they were even suggesting that the training should be extended to higher institutions of learning where many girls are being exposed to social media attacks and server bullying.
- Comfort Amos Mukollo: the second speaker was Comfort Mukollo from Gombe State TV. “The training had been an interesting one and an eye opener, because I never had a training like this, I thought I was secure digitally before because I had two step verification on my WhatsApp not knowing that this was not enough. But after joining the training I realized that I am not secured. We need to create strong password not only on our phones, but to our other applications. After our first training my phone was hacked with my two step verification, but because of the knowledge we had, I was able to secure it back”. Said Comfort.
Through the stepdown training Comfort said she realized that there was huge gap in the awareness of digital platforms and its associated risks, because most of the female journalists were not aware of the safety tips as far as digital safety is concern. Females are mostly attack on social media and online. She finally said her capacity was built on how to protect her account.
- Shaharuza Umar Idris: the third speaker was Shaharuza Umar from Amana FM Gombe State. Shaharuza said she was delighted to be part of the training. “CITAD has done so much beyond my imagination, I never thought I would have something like this in my life and a lot of opportunities and darkness of the internet, and how to secure myself. The training was amazing and I learned beyond the classroom and it’s highly educative.” Shaharuza said
Speaking about her stepdown training, Shaharuza said she trained 10 participants. She said many ladies think they were secure or someone is protecting them online, or the owners of the social media platforms will not allow any harm to come to them until after the training they realized they are on their own when it comes to online safety. She continue to say that the step down training started with practical aspect of encryption which many of the participants have never known about before the training. One of the participants who is a journalist narrated that there was a time they went to cover one event and after covering the event a colleague of her stole the report and use it to which she said if she had known about encryption he couldn’t have stolen the report from her. One of the ladies trained also said she did not know that it is wrong for someone to take her pictures and posted online without her consent before the training, but through the training she realized that no one can take her picture or something without her permission.
Speaking more about how the step down training impacted positively on the trained participants. Shaharuza shared at the story telling session that after the training one of the participants complained to her about how somebody after screenshotting her picture on her WhatsApp status which showed some part of her body was blackmailing her and she blocked him. Shaharuza told her to unblock the person and let him know she has the right to post whatever she wants to post on her status without anyone taking it to use it against her, which she did and the person continued and she sued in the court.
- Su’uda Mustapha: the forth speaker was Su’uda Mustapha from Progressive Radio Gombe. She started by giving her own experience on digital world where she said she is actually not digital person and because of that she left her phone, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram open. “I never heard about other security applications, and this training is an eye opener for me”, She said, she also shared her passwords with her husband, but when she attended the training and heard about strong password she told her husband that they were risking their information for using simple password very easy to hackers to guess. She further mentioned that after the training she’s able to know there are other tips used to protect one’s information so that nobody can get it. She changed her password and she used different password for different applications and platforms now.
Discussing on her step down training, the speaker said most of the journalists are using digital devices or internet without securing their information. Su’uda said she is now delighted that the participants of the stepdown training are now aware of the safety tips, and using of strong password, online security and freedom of information. Also the trained participants requested the trainer to continue the training for the benefit of the all-female journalists in the state.
- Fatima Abubakar Lawan: the firth speaker was Fatima Abubakar Lawan from Guarantee Radio, Kano. Fatima started by saying that she never attended such kind of training. She further mentioned that the training opened her eyes on the important of safeguarding her digital life and learned a lot of things about different online platforms. She also said before the training she used only one password which was her registration number for her account and other platforms, but she is now fully equipped with how to safeguard and to change her password regularly.
- Maryam Bawa: the sixth participant was Maryam Bawa of NigerianTracker Newspaper. Maryam started by narrating how her website was attacked by hackers before the training and an attempt to hack her Facebook account. She also said someone impersonated her and open new account with her name and was posting her pictures when her friend alerted her about the new account and the impersonator, she screenshot it and post it on the same platform saying someone is using her account and asked people to report the impersonator, that was how the account was taken down. Speaking more about her website, Maryam said she didn’t know how to create a strong password; she was using her favorite color as her password in the website, when it was hacked she had to sought for help from someone who requested the sum of 50,000 naira as the payment fee for bringing back the website and a training on how to create a strong password. Maryam said she was about paying the money when she got the link for the training and she apply. She continue to narrate that from the first day of training, she said YES this is it, and she didn’t expect to learn a lot from the training. At the end she realized that she was actually equipped with enough knowledge on how to safeguard herself as a digital journalist.
- Bilkisu Ado Zango: Bilkisu Ado Zango is also among the champions, she started by thanking the Executive Director of CITAD, Malam YZ for given them the opportunity to be part of the training and mentorship. Bilkisu said she was a victim of Facebook hacking. Bilkisu said before the training she think it’s because she doesn’t have a lot of knowledge of social media her account was hacked. She continue to say that when her account was hacked the person posted his pictures on the account. “I don’t know there are a lot of things in Facebook, I don’t know how to change my setting on Facebook and how its security works, the only thing I used was the two step verification on my Whatsapp, but nothing like strong password”.
Speaking on the stepdown, Bilkisu said a lot of journalists do not know how to use different applications while discharging their journalistic works. Mrs. Zango said the training was an eye opener for her participants who were selected from different media houses; broadcast media. The reason was that different people would have the knowledge, and they can share it to other journalists in their media houses.
In concluding the session, the chairman of the storytelling session, Dr. Suleiman Yar’adua advised that looking at the importance of the training and how the trained journalists exhibited the skills and knowledge got from the training, CITAD should sustain and expend the training to other journalists as digital literacy is paramount to not only female journalists but everyone practicing journalism in the country. Dr. Yar’adua said everyone’s concern should now be on how to safeguard his or her privacy online, secure his/her password and also enhance our knowledge on digital threats and the safety measures. Also the knowledge of digital encryption which is very fundamental as per online safety is concern. He added.
From the narrations of the participants, we have learned that they all acquired the knowledge on how to secure themselves online. The next thing to do is data mining which is also very critical likewise the knowledge of phishing, cybercrime and fake domain which will give them more knowledge on how to respond to threats and harassments.
At the end the chairman said a collaboration between CITAD and the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano will help a lot in equipping the upcoming journalists with digital knowledge.
Closing the session, Malam Ya’u thanked the chairman for moderating the session and the champions for sharing their experiences. He continue to say that CITAD will continue to develop more programs and initiatives for promoting digital safety and privacy online for journalists. He went further to say one of the main objective is bridging the gap of gender digital divide in the country where he cited an example of the annual CITAD’s Bauchi Feminists Internet School which is held annually in Bauchi.