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Beware of fake news, FG warns Nigerians

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Federal Government has raised the alarm over the spate of fake news being spread on social media.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in a statement on Sunday.

He said the aim of those formulating and spreading the news was to heat up the polity and cause confusion like the fake news of a bomb blast in Lagos which went viral on the Internet over the weekend.

Mohammed said the gory video of the blast that occurred many years ago was being circulated along with the false news of a bomb blast in Abuja, while the news of a non-existent bomb blast in Lagos was also widely circulated, forcing the police to promptly debunk the rumour.

The minister also said the latest strategy being employed by the purveyors of fake news was to attribute to top government officials’ improbable statements that were capable of destabilising the polity, causing tension and threatening the country’s unity.

“This is why we are appealing to Nigerians not to ever engage in a knee-jerk reaction to any news, and to subject all information to a very serious scrutiny by checking with security agencies and government spokespersons,’’ he said.

He described the fake news phenomenon as ‘the scourge of our times’ which would probably get worse in the months ahead, hence the need for all Nigerians to be very vigilant so that fake news purveyors would not succeed in their quest to sow the seeds of chaos and confusion.

Mohammed also appealed to the traditional media to join the campaign against the purveyors of fake news, especially because the websites of many reputable media organisations were being used to spread false information in order to gain credibility.

“On our part, we will not relent until we have exposed those who are behind this fake news phenomenon and brought them to justice,’’ Mohammed said.

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