‘News literacy, fact-checking critical to curbing fake news’.
Experts have advocated news literacy as a tool to stem the increase of misinformation in the social media age.
Calling on individuals to check facts, they noted that misinformation is as old as man and has increased since the advent of technology (social media).
They spoke yesterday at a session tagged ‘Gate-keeping in the Era of Fake News: The Impact of Social Media During Election’ hosted by Guardian Newspapers Limited (GNL) at the first day of the Social Media Week, in Lagos.
The experts in the technology, media, and entertainment industries identified insufficient open data and poor knowledge of news as major reasons for the spread of false news.
According to them, there is a need for individuals to verify any information they receive before publishing it.
Facebook and Google urged users to access tools freely on their platforms to debunk false news and misinformation.
Head of Investigation, Premium Times, Nicholas Ibekwe, noted that fact-checking was cumbersome but useful in stemming the spread of fake news.
He urged social media users to “check if it (information) is published by a credible newspaper” before posting and sharing with other users.
“Many people still don’t understand the difference between news and opinion. We need to sensitize youths on this issue so that they can fact-check for themselves and others. Fact checking is also difficult because we don’t have a public data to work with,” he added.
Communications and Public Affairs Manager, West Africa, Google, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, stated that every post on social media has a purpose, but more responsibility is for the user to “understand the reason – be it political, monetary or momentary need to be viral.”
He explained that although ridding the Internet of falsehood could be challenging, “it is easier when users verify trending text posts, pictures and visuals with Google tools, especially during the election period.”
Facebook representative, Adaora Ikenze, said the role of the platform was to create a community that allows people to engage but not to misinform people.
Ikenze stated that the wide reach of the platform makes it challenging to totally stop users from posting contents. She, however, noted that some posts are instantly verified when reported.
Her words: “Our verifying process is a deliberate one, which follows a procedure. We can either dot or remove any false content. Facebook has over 24 million users in Nigeria that generate about three million contents daily, this is obviously a huge figure, but we have content quality reviewers.”
She noted that Facebook had embargoed placement of political adverts by foreign sponsors to restrict foreign influence in the 2019 elections through the platform.