EXPERTS drawn from the legal and media industry have called for increased media literacy and awareness for citizens including the implementation of a comprehensive legal framework to curb misinformation in Nigeria.
This call was made on Thursday during a Twitter Space organized by FactsMatterNG in collaboration with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
The theme of the event was: Fake News and Democratic Participation: Lessons and Projections from the 2023 elections.
Speaking at the virtual event, a lawyer and social activist, Abdul Mahmud, encouraged media and fact-checking platforms to be transparent and objective in their reporting.
“What I saw that played out in 2023 is that some fact-checkers deliberately selected certain politicians for the purpose of fact-checking,” he said.
Mahmud argued that the essence of fact-checking is not to witch-hunt people but to ensure the public consumes accurate information.
He noted that rather than regulation which may end up infringing citizen’s freedom of expression and press freedom, journalists and the media should be equipped with the knowledge of media literacy to check facts from statements made by the citizenry.
On her part, Wemimo Adewumi, a media and communication strategist also added that strict social media regulation could lead to infringement of fundamental human rights, urging the media to equip citizens with knowledge of fact-checking to make their job easier.
Also speaking, Caroline Anipah, a Deputy Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) expressed concerns over the influx of unscrupulous fact-checking platforms posing as credible fact-checking organizations in Nigeria and Ghana.
On legislation, she stressed on the need for all the stakeholders including the media to come together and design a working framework to stem the tide of misinformation and disinformation in the country.
Commenting, the editor of FactCheckHub, Opeyemi Kehinde, emphasized the importance of partnerships between media houses and fact-checking organizations, as well as the need to educate citizens on media literacy.
“For instance, when several Twitter accounts were posing as Datti Baba-Ahmed during the just concluded general elections, we were quick to point out that the accounts are not associated with the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, as we published a list of those accounts to notify the public,” he said.