Nigeria’s independent fact-checking platform, Dubawa, on Wednesday, commenced a two-day training workshop for officials of National Orientation Agency (NOA) on combating fake news.
The training, which is the first of its kind for the agency’s staff and key personnel on how the fight against fake news, will help not only in promoting credible democratic discourse in Nigeria but also aid NOA to deliver its mandate to the Nigeria populace.
The Director General of NOA, Garba Abari, in his opening remarks,, explained the intercourse between freedom of information and fake news.
Mr Abari said the licence to freedom of information in the century had been abused with the impulse of fake news mostly through social media.
“We are in an era where all manner of information are accessible on social media. It has become necessary for our citizenry to become educated, skilled, equipped in the act of fact-check. This will enable them to independently confirm information in their various positions before sharing to others to debunk or disregard them.
“The advent of social media has heightened the negative impact of fake news and misinformation,” the DG said.
He emphasised the need for the agency to also equip its staff with tools to combat them in their respective jurisdiction.
NOA is the federal government’s agency officially mandated to share information and enlighten the Nigeria populace.
The Executive Director of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Dapo Olorunyomi, aligned with Mr Abari’s view when he identified technology as one of the factors of fake news.
“Journalism, technology and the public are the major driving forces of information disorder. Technology has added volume and speed, making verifying misinformation much more challenging,” he said.
He also explained ‘intent to harm’ as the thin line between misinformation, disinformation and mal-information.
Earlier, Mr Olorunyomi explained how fake news contributed to the noncompliance of COVID-19 protocols.
The Editor of Dubawa, Kemi Busari, said people’s biases at times influence how they gather and interpret information before sharing.
He added that “preempting false information has proven more effective than debunking false information because when most people come in contact with false information, they don’t bother to go back for the truth.”
PTCIJ Program Director, Tosin Alagbe, and Nigeria Dubawa Programme Assistant, Temilade Onilede, were among those who attended the training.
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