Social Media Week: Speakers harp on education to curb online hate speech

PANELISTS at the ongoing Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos, on Wednesday stressed the need to educate the public to curb online hate speeches.

The panelists made the call in Lagos during a programme organised by Bethphage, a perception management and consultancy firm on the sidelines of SMW Lagos 2017.

The theme of the programme is ‘Online Hate Speech: Can Social Media Reduce its Spread?

Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, the spokesperson of APC, said that the issue of hate speeches on the internet had become topical hence should be seriously addressed.

Abdullahi said that there was the need to protect the younger ones from online hate speeches and enlighten them on the dos and don’ts of the internet.

He said that hate speeches had to do with hatred, and if hatred existed, there would be problems in the society.

“When a killer is no longer a killer but a Fulani herdsman, when a kidnapper is no longer a kidnapper but Ibo kidnapper, when a robber becomes Yoruba robber, then there is hatred and conflicts.

”The oxygen of democracy is free speech, but we have to be mindful of the speeches we make.

”There are roles for the government and citizens to ensure a safer internet. Education is a major step to change the paradigm of hate speeches online,” he said.

Mrs Ngozi Anene, the Executive Director of HS Media Group said that hate speech was an expression that incited others for hatred and harm.

Anene said that there was the need to verify any content before putting on the social media to avoid problems in the society.

She said that the internet should be made a safer place, which would affect the overall development of the economy.

According to her, culture is the bedrock of the society, but youths no longer follow the culture of the society.

”The social norms that that we have are going down slowly because of the things youths do online and offline.

”We have to put checks and balances in place because the social media have eroded our culture,” she said.

Mr Abdul-Hareem Ajijola, the Global Commissioner, Global Commission for the Stability of CyberSpace said that there were series of challenges being faced across the world.

Ajijola said that among them was the use of internet with fake news and hate speeches.

He called on the youths to imbibe a set of norms that would guide the use of the internet since they use it more.

”It is all about education. We have to go back to our culture. There is no religion that teaches you to backbite; there is no religion that teaches you to fabricate lies.

”When Noah built the ark, there was no rain, it is time to start building the ark before any rain begins in the country,” the cyber security expert said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Bethphage, Mr Peter Eigbedion said that online speech was now becoming the culture of citizens.

Eigbedion said that there was the need to avoid a situation where anybody could just say anything online.

”We want to change the narrative, so that hate speeches do not led the country into chaos,” he said.

SMW Lagos is a weeklong conference that provides the ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world.

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