Barrister Festus Keyamo, SAN, the minister of state for Labour and Employment, has talked about some ways in which fake news could be curbed.
Keyamo, spoke through his special adviser, Niyi Fatogun in a media workshop on ‘Balancing Ethics and Patriotism: the obligations of journalists to their country’, organised by the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa.
The minister pointed out that although social media has come to stay in the country, there must be laws put in place to regulate and sanitise the system.
He said to kill fake news, which according to him, can destroy the fabric of the country, fake social media accounts must first be killed.
The minister also said that laws must be put in place that illegalise fake news.
“Social media has come to stay. Gone are those days when we used to beg editors or be at their mercy to get your views out there,” when an editor decides which story to put there and which story to ignore.
“Today everyone puts their thoughts out uncensored which is a very good thing.
“It is good for mankind. However, we also know that it comes with its own problems.
“We must make sure we don’t kill the good because of the bad. So the best [we can do] is to support the good and mitigate against the bad and ugly.
“Before it was very possible to hold people accountable for fake news. Media houses had professionals who were very responsible…today we have the social media and the gate keepers have become more or less sidelined, so what do we do to mitigate against the bad and ugly?
“You kill fake news by killing fake social media accounts. Secondly, we must make laws that illegalise fake news that are capable of destroying the fabric of the nation.
“Fake news is capable of destroying the fabrics of the nation. Those forwarding such news must also be held liable….such should not be tolerated,” he said.
Addressing journalists, convener of the workshop, John Mayak, who is the Country Director, Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa, said that the best and easiest way to tackle fake news is self regulation.
He said that there should be both government and self regulation to fight fake news, calling for laws to be established to regulate how people use social media, just like it is in China and other developed countries.
“Let us regulate ourselves. Self regulation is the best. It’s a democratic system and we don’t expect the government to shut down the media or regulate media content.
“But for us as journalists, we can regulate ourselves. For me, it’s the best. Social media doesn’t have regulation. You sit down in the mountain or dungeon and post anything and there’s a crisis everywhere.
“I can’t promise you that fake news is going to die. All the conferences in the world and in Nigeria will not kill fake news. But we can self-regulate.
“We should thank God that Nigeria hasn’t collapsed. In the issue of fake news nobody is above the law.
“That’s what we call government regulation and self regulation. I expect social media to be regulated. Look at China, there is a level of sanity in China. Not all social media apps are used in China. Even in the UK and some other countries, I mean cyber laws should be enforced.”