The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) has lamented the negative impact of fake news on its work, saying that fake news is damaging the credibility of the nation’s COVID-19 response.
The National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, while speaking during the daily briefing on Monday said the impact of fake news “damages the credibility of the nation’s COVID-19 response, particularly when these stories are circulated.”
Dr Aliyu said, “There’s no doubt, spreading false news would damage our communities. It damages trust and absolutely undermines the work we are trying to do in controlling this pandemic.”
Regretting the development, he said, “We have noted a growing incidence of fake news, and this is particularly associated with the government COVID-19 emergency response and there is no doubt that these kinds of incorrect and manufactured news distract and misinform the public as well as discredit the national response effort.
“Examples of fake news around activities of the Task Force include false statements about the lockdown guidelines as well as false reports on relief funds received, saying all spent by the PTF.”
He noted that this development was also harmful, and destroy the fragile trust between the government and the public; resulting potentially in people acting on wrong information.
“Our call to you today is to please make sure that when you or your loved ones have received messages on any platform, we urge you to please verify the source and authenticity before forwarding these messages;” he said.
Dr Aliyu pointed out that there were verifiable sources as far as the COVID-19 response is concerned, one of which includes the daily briefing by the PTF where key stakeholders provide live updates on response activities and provide a platform for two-way communication between the media and PTF members.
There are also other sources of fact such as government agencies including the agencies that sit on the PTF, our own website of NCDC and SGF, the federal minister of information as well as government or the government agencies.
The national coordinator, who listed other sources of information, therefore, appealed to journalists and Nigerians to always verify the source and authenticity of news before they share with friends and loved ones.
“Let us please help to promote a narrative of Truth and facts. We should verify before sharing and for those that are engaged in this activity, we are urging you to channel your energy to more productive and endeavour,” he said.