Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said aside the damage done to the credibility of public information, the capacity of fake news to cause great harm was not in doubt.
Osinbajo, who spoke in Abuja at a conference organized by BBC News titled, “Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake News”, said he was among the many victims of fake news.
“I am also one of the very many targets of fake news. And it isn’t just for money, sometimes it may also cost you marital peace.
“I got a call from my wife and she said Yemi, what were you doing with strippers? I said, ‘what do you mean strippers?’
He said a blog reported a story that “Osinbajo Caught With Strippers” and there was a photograph of him standing between two perfectly clothed ladies, but just underneath it, the same ladies were not wearing much cloths.”
Osinbajo said he had in fact taken photographs with the two ladies at an entertainment event when they were perfectly clothed. By the time the story was put out, it was as though he had taken the photograph with them when they were not clothed at all.
He said as technology improves its capacity to manipulate, there will be perfect videos that show speeches that were never said or events that never took place.
He said if nothing was done to halt fake news, “we may get to a point where nothing is believed.”
Osinbajo said it will be impossible to regulate the social media without substantially infringing on fundamental human rights, especially freedom of expression.
He urged the traditional media to do more investigation and fact checking as part of efforts to curb fake news.
*World war III could be started by fake news
A Noble Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, said social media like Facebook should be called to order and that they need to wake up to their corporate responsibility.
He said fake news may cause another world war if nothing was done to curb it.
“I made a statement before that if we are not careful, world war III will be started by fake news and that fake news will be probably generated by a Nigerian,” he said.
He said he had been a victim of fake news, and that numerous false statements had been wrongly attributed to him.
“You may find a statement that was attributed to you in a kind of language which you will never use,” he said.
BBC Director of News, Jamie Angus said there is so much to lose “if we don’t tackle fake news.”