Disinformation, Misinformation and Social Media Regulation

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We suggest PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE measures are adopted – The Nigerian Global Affairs Council (NIGAC)

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The Nigerian Ruling Class have a natural tendency to punish or create punitive measures to counter what they term ‘BAD BEHAVIOUR’ – Often times, when you seek to look deeper, you mostly see that these proposals for punitive measures are mostly introduced when their desire or freedom to not be held accountable is threatened.

In Nigeria, the problem of Misinformation is larger than the issue of Disinformation – Misinformation often emanates from willful or unwilful ignorance or simply put – PURE LAZINESS on the path of those who consume information to verify an Information they have consumed before sharing publicly, in some cases, you might even verify but see that the misinformation is so widespread that it becomes difficult to know what is legit or valid information.

Often times, Misinformation Campaigns are targeted at Individuals who naturally don’t process the information they consume, the results isn’t usually disastrous other than having an ignorant population.

Whereas, Disinformation is intentionally propagated to cause chaos, harm and unrest – disinformation campaigns are more targeted and better organized. Disinformation Campaigns usually lead to Political Upheavals and if not contained immediately, can even lead to the ouster of a democratic Government, often times, foreign influence and players using digital and traditional media tools are the means via which a disinformation campaign can occur.

On the other hand, Misinformation campaigns are limited to social media and often times, so disorganized because they are flippantly shared by those who don’t process information, it is more difficult to tackle because it doesn’t have an end-game, it is just a long-term condition that keeps people uninformed about the true state of affairs or happenings but this can be corrected immediately if other valid facts are provided from a trusted source.

I have drawn this analysis to let us understand what Nigeria suffers from is a SITUATION OF MISINFORMATION.

To tackle this issue of MISINFORMATION, Government does not need to enact a NEW SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION BILL, it only needs to be PROACTIVE through its assigned AGENCIES like the National ORIENTATION AGENCY, National Broadcasting Commission and the Nigerian Communication Commission.

The Federal Government needs to LAUNCH a counter-offensive on MISINFORMATION via MASSIVE CAMPAIGN on FAKE NEWS and MISINFORMATION where it gets to educate the citizens on how to verify fake and real news, the dangers of sharing information that can’t be verified or authenticated and most importantly, taking PROACTIVE measures to RECRUIT Social Media Influencers as Brand Ambassadors to COUNTER Fake NEWS and Misinformation. Government should not hound them.

No Law or Regulation can STOP MISINFORMATION as it is mostly targeted at the IGNORANT and those who are MENTALLY LAZY – in such cases, it is more about the mindset and attitude and that can only be changed through PROACTIVE MEASURES – Our Federal Government needs to activate its mechanisms and make this a PRIORITY rather than promoting the need for a NEEDLESS Social Media Regulation Law.

Our Federal Government can also work with LOCAL Media Organizations and Social Media Companies with active followings in Nigeria to ensure it has a coordinated way to stop misinformation campaigns on social media, this is similar to what Facebook and Twitter has done with the CORONAVIRUS and U.S 2020 Elections.

Lastly, yes, we support the fact that disinformation campaigns should be made a TREASONABLE OFFENSE as those who carry out such CAMPAIGNS are AGENTS of INSTABILITY.

We are willing and open to collaborations with the Government, Private Sector and Development Partners in designing a Counter-OFFENSIVE Policy on Fake News and Misinformation which can be targeted at Nigerians starting from our Secondary School Students down to our Adult Population. Send us your thoughts, ideas or you can reach us via email – elda@nigac.org

This piece is written by EldaDavid Kehinde Samuel, Elda resides in Lagos, Nigeria. Elda is a Resident Policy Fellow at the Nigerian Global Affairs Council (NIGAC) – The Nigerian Global Affairs Council (NIGAC) is a Technology-based and Digital media-driven Public Policy and Evidence-based Research Think-Tank focused on Policy concerns that revolve around Governance and Public Administration within the Nigerian State and how we interact with the larger World.

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