The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says fake news on social media, if not tackled, can cause great damage to the world.
“The mix of fake news using social media platforms has now become cancer that if the world does not take time, it will destroy the world,” the minister said during an interview on Channels Television’s News Night which aired on Monday.
While noting that he has always been at the forefront of the fight against fake news, the minister reiterated his stance that “the next war will be caused by fake news,” calling for collaboration among stakeholders to tackle the menace.
“If we do not take the issue of fake news, social media seriously, it will be at our own peril,” the 69-year-old old noted.
He, however, dismissed fears that the Federal Government may want to stifle the media via the regulation of social media, explaining that stakeholders have always been carried along in the country’s quest to curb fake news.
“The government is setting up a high-powered committee to see how we can make social media more responsible,” he said. “And I want to say this clearly, nobody has the intention of stifling the media.”
He accused social media platforms of double standards especially during the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests that rocked the West African nation in October 2020.
“It was fake news. Unfortunately, the major players like Twitter and co were supporting this,” he stated.
The Minister’s comment comes on the heels of a kidnap that took place in a secondary school in Kagara, Niger State that led to the abduction of scores of students by gunmen.
An ‘Immediate Concern’
Despite fears that the Federal Government might be forced to pay a ransom to ensure the students are freed, the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says there is no plan to give money in exchange for the kidnapped students.
“The immediate concern of the Federal Government is to get those students released unharmed,” the minister added. “In doing so, we are going to employ kinetic and non-kinetic. But non-kinetic does not necessarily mean amnesty or ransom. But we would not outrightly say we would not do this or that. But one thing I know the government will not do is pay the ransom.”
According to him, if the government pays a ransom to free the abducted students, it would become a “bad precedent” and people will turn the kidnapping of schoolchildren into a business.