The social networking site, Facebook, has pledged to partner with the Federal Government to check the spread of fake news and disinformation in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who announced this at a news briefing in Abuja on Friday, said it is obvious that the purveyors of fake news will scale up their act to create panic and spread disinformation, following the confirmation of the disease in Nigeria.
“We know that at times like this, purveyors of fake news and disinformation usually ramp up their acts. We are therefore urging Nigerians not to fall for the antics of purveyors of fakes news and disinformation.
“Fortunately, Facebook is working with us in this regard. They have asked Nigerians to report any false or misleading report on Facebook and Instagram pages so they can immediately bring them down.
“They have also assured us that they are taking preemptive action to remove any false or harmful messages about this epidemic and public health in Nigeria 24/7. All that Nigerians are required to do is to flag any false or misleading report on the epidemic and Facebook will remove any such report,” he said.
The Minister said media agencies of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, like the NTA, FRCN, NAN, and VON, have been directed to intensify their ongoing sensitisation and enlightenment campaigns to arm Nigerians with the necessary information to stay well.
He said measures being taken by the agencies include enlightenment jingles on radio and television, up-to-date reports on the efforts being made by Nigerian health authorities to ensure proper screening at the nation’s gateways and also handle possible cases, continued airing of documentaries on the disease by the NTA and SMS sensitisation messages being sent to Nigerians by the News Agency of Nigeria.
Alhaji Mohammed said the National Orientation Agency (NOA), with its wide reach (offices in all the 774 local governments), is pushing the various sensitisation/enlightenment programmes to all the nooks and crannies of the country by translating the campaign to the major indigenous languages to expand their reach.
He added that features on the disease (prevention, treatment, etc.) are also being written and disseminated.
The Minister, therefore, appealed to all Nigerians not to panic, as the government is well-equipped to detect and handle any possible case or cases.