THE Nigeria Union of Journalists has expressed concern over the increasing prevalence of false information on social media calling on Nigeria’s media to take a stand against the degradation of the journalism profession.
The National President of the Union, Christopher Isiguzo, made this remark at the lecture series of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan College of Arts and Social Sciences, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, with the theme: “Rethinking The Social Media: Fake News and The Death of The Gatekeeper.”
Isiguzo said fake news has a long-lasting relationship with social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where people can spread information and mislead millions of users
He noted that lack of gatekeeping on social media platforms which has led to proliferation of fake news and hate speeches is a threat to democracy and good governance.
“Unlike traditional journalism, social media is a bottom-up, emergent phenomenon in which there is little or no editorial oversight or formal journalistic workflow. It does not require training or professionalism,” Isiguzo said. “It is therefore my contention that in an attempt to discuss this topic, adequate consideration should be given to the traditional media. This becomes more pertinent because of my professional calling which today faces threats from the misuse of the social media.”
He noted that the quest for breaking news and revenue generation has weakened the strengths of media houses to ensure proper gatekeeping before publishing stories.
“Many traditional media now allow citizens to report events happening in their area just like many citizens use social media to announce events and breaking news,” he added.
“Perhaps one of the most significant benefits offered by social media is the ability to complement traditional media efforts. With the use of social networking sites, you can redistribute and promote your business’ advertisements, as well as any other media content, including newspaper articles, online interviews and television appearances.”
Isiguzo expressed concerns about journalists misusing their power and informed them that in order to prevent such abuses, the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO) has established the National Media Complaints Commission (NMCC), which is responsible for addressing complaints from the public regarding any violations committed by a newspaper organization.
He advised journalists and media outlets to ensure the adequate verification of stories prior to their publication or transmission to the public in order to stem the tide of misinformation online.
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Igbinedion University Okada (IUO) Lawrence Ezemonye, stressed the significance of the media in advocating for a just and equal society that is free from fabricated news and other false information spread on social media. He further emphasized the crucial role of media in the development of a nation.