Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has asked Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, to stop fake news and false information from spreading on their sites before the 2023 general elections.
The minister made the call Friday in his office in Abuja, where he was meeting with representatives from Meta and Google, which owns YouTube and other platforms.
“It’s no longer news that social media play a big role in national elections, and neither Nigeria nor any other country is immune,”
“Nigeria is one of the countries with the most people using social media, especially Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. This is because most of the people there are young.
“The use, or misuse, of these platforms is, therefore, of great concern to all parties involved in the elections. That’s why we’ve invited you here, so we can all work together to make sure that these platforms are used in a responsible way, so they don’t become the go-to places for fake news and misinformation,”
Alhaji Mohammed said that the government has noticed that some shady people are using deep fakes, clones of trusted media platforms, and parody accounts to do bad things.
“For example, candidates’ campaign speeches are changed to make them look bad, video clips and pictures of campaign rallies are changed to make them look like they didn’t have many people there, fake or unscientific opinion polls are made up, and threats of violence in some parts of the country are blown out of proportion. All of these things are then shared on social media to a large audience in order to make their target candidates look bad, change public opinion, or even hurt them.” In other words, there has been a huge amount of misinformation and fake news spread through social media before the elections.
So, the Minister asked the two tech giants to add certain officials from the Ministry to their platforms so that they can flag posts that are fake news or spread misinformation so that they can be taken down.
He also asked them to work with security agencies to take down posts that could cause violence. He also asked that election results that didn’t come from official sources be marked as unreliable, and he asked platform owners to highlight posts from official channels like the Ministry of Information and Culture, INEC, and National Orientation Agency.
“If these steps are taken, they will help stop the spread of fake news and false information on social media before, during, and after the elections,”