Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stated that the Nigerian government will not fold its arm and allow the reckless use of social media.
Speaking in Lagos on Friday on what transpired during the EndSARS protest and the ensuing, the minister said that the meeting, one of a series was necessary to draw lessons from the fallout of the protest with a view to forestalling a recurrence, especially of the mindless violence that followed the hijack of the peaceful protest.
According to him, social media must not be used as a tool for aggravating fault lines and throwing the country into turmoil
While acknowledging the fact that social media had come to stay, the minister emphasised the need for curbing its excesses, adding that the government will neither shutdown the internet nor stifle press freedom or free speech as being insinuated.
Identifying fake news and disinformation as a product of social media abuse, Alhaji Mohammed emphasised that it aggravated the EndSARS protest, stating that it did not come as a surprise because he had been raising the alarm about dangers of social media since 2017.
“In 2017, we dedicated that year’s National Council on Information to the issue of fake news, hate speech, and disinformation. The following year, in 2018, we launched the national campaign against fake news and disinformation, partnering with a number of print and electronic media organisations.
“Now, our fears about the abuse of social media, and specifically the dangers posed by fake news and disinformation has come to pass. During the protest and the subsequent violence, fake news, and disinformation were the order of the day. Social media was used for mobilisation, and it was also used to guide arsonists and looters to properties, both public and private, which were targeted for attack.”
The minister criticised media houses for their reportage of the protest especially the attack on security agents.