THE United States Consulate in Lagos has emphasized the importance of factual information in strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and public institutions.
This call was made by its Public Affairs Officer, Joseph Kruzich, during a fact-check workshop organised by FactsMatterNG, in Lagos on Thursday, June 1, 2023.
He said truthful information enables voters to make good decisions while charging journalists and Nigerians to play their role accurately.
“It is important that you play your role by providing accurate information. I have seen it in many places around the world. When you don’t have accurate information, a lot of bad decisions are made and it’s playing out even today,” Kruzich explained.
Linking the Russia-Ukraine war to matters of the truth, the US Public Affairs officer faulted the media for failing to hold Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, accountable over the implications of the year-long war.
“That is an example of not having an active media that cares about truth. The truth matters a whole lot and we must enable our journalists to identify misinformation or videos that are not accurate,” he said.
Admitting the rise of Artificial Intelligence in delimiting the fact-checking process, Kruzich believes AI can impact the rate of misinformation, while stressing on the importance of technology in today’s world.
Also speaking, Hannah Ajakaiye, an ICFJ Knight fellow and coordinator of FactsMatterNg, who opened the session stated that fighting disinformation should not be left to journalists alone.
“Social media users should be able to apply basic tools for verifying information on their own. Especially now where generative AI has made it easier to produce false stories and manipulated media,” she remarked.
The workshop had the theme: Building Trust in an Age of Information Manipulation
It featured a training session on countering post-election disinformation facilitated by Africa Check Nigeria Editor, David Ajikobi. Silas Jonathan, a researcher with Dubawa also led a hands-on session on detecting synthetic media.
Nollywood actor, Kunle Idowu, a.k.a. Frank Donga who featured in a fireside chat during the workshop charged influencers and other prominent social media users to be mindful of sharing contents which may cause harm to their fellow humans.
His views on responsible use of social media use were corroborated by Dr Chioma Nwakanma-Akanno, a content creator popularly known as Dr Zobo who also spoke on the fireside chat on ‘Fake news and the influence industry’.
The workshop organised by FactsMatterNG wraps up a yearlong election fact-checking initiative supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) Knight Fellowship programme.