Lai : I can’t count the number of times social media removed me from office
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says he has lost count of the times when there were social media reports that he had been removed from office.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of the 4th Commonwealth Public Relations Congress in Lagos,
Mohammed described social media as a nightmare to image makers because of its disinformation through fake and distorted news.
The minister said, locally, the trend has also made the job of government image makers a task so daunting that it is denying them of sleep.
He said image makers in both public and private sectors were victims, and charged them to devise innovative ways to ensure a better, charged-way communication network between their employer and the people.
“Government image makers now sleep with one eye opened, that’s if we sleep at all, because while we are sleeping, the purveyors of distorted and fake news are busy cooking their stuff,” he said.
“I cannot count the number of times that I have been removed from the information and culture portfolio on the social media in the past year, or that ministers have swapped portfolios.
“Today, anyone with access to a smart phone can put out any information, whether accurate or not, that could go viral in minutes.
“No fact-checking, no accuracy, no fairness, no rules. They just spread whatever information catches their fancy, and they have their own public that believes them.”
He said the trend was affecting international and local affairs, including the recent US election.
“To understand the seriousness of this, there is an ongoing debate in the US over the role that disinformation played in the recent presidential election,” he said.
“Some even accused the social networking site, Facebook, of helping to swing the election in favour of Mr Donald Trump, through the fake and distorted news spread by websites belonging to those who call themselves Alt-Right, or Alternative Right.
“Of course Facebook has denied that. But then Facebook and Google have taken concrete action to check this by seeking to cut off the live wire to these fake news websites.”
According to published reports, Google said it will prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its advertising network, while Facebook said its ban on deceptive and misleading content also applies to fake news.