From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokojà
Media practitioners in Kogi last Thursday called on the Federal Government to put in place regulations to curtail the spread of hate and fake news by the social media especially during political campaigns.
The practitioners who made the call at a two-day Common Ground Journalism Training under Electoral Empowerment for Civil Society Programme (EECSP) organised by Search for Common Ground, an NGO and National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Lokoja.
Our Correspondent reports that the programme is being supported by Department for International Development (UKAID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The practitioners said the media especially in Kogi, of late was awashed with hate speeches and fake news with the aim of influencing the forthcoming November 16, governorship election in the state.
The call, was not aimed at gagging the social or mainstream media but to enhance professionalism and enable some level of decency in the practice and change the current narratives through application of rules.
They said that the Freedom of speech or expression did not give anybody the right to peddle or purvey hate speeches to malign or assassinate other peoples’ character and therefore, called for strict regulation of on-line media practitioners.
Joy Baiye, Media and Outreach Coordinator, SEARCH, in her presentation on Hate Speech, Trends and Development urged Journalists to guard against being used by politicians to promote hate speech and fake news.
She said that extant laws on defamation, slander and libel, did not take cognizance of the New Media but could mitigate the spate of hate speech and fake news by the New Media Practitioners if adhered to or enforced.
Mrs Lola Mamedu, Coordinator, Early Warning Coordinator of SEARCH, speaking on Identifying threats and Drivers of Election Violence and guaranteeing the smooth conduct of elections held that hate speeches and fake news could undo outcome of elections and should be addressed seriously.
Mrs. Gift Omoniwa, State Project Coordinator of SEARCH said objectives of the organisation, which currently has offices in 18 African countries, include among others, improved impartial observation.