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Gabriel Ottah states dangers of fake news

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By Stephen Adeleye

Dr Gabriel Ottah, Special Adviser to Gov. Yahya Bello of Kogi on Information and Communications, has warned fake news peddlers to desist from the act and focus on communicating development messages.

Ottah gave the warning on Friday at the first Public Lecture Series of the Department of Mass Communications of Prince Abubakar Audu University (PAAU), Anyigba.

Ottah who was the Guest Lecturer said fake news emanated mostly from citizen journalists who had no rudimentary understanding of professional reporting.

Citing relevant examples, the governor’s aide pointed out that social media have been abused by people who, for selfish reasons, publish fake news.

According to him, while citizen journalists have no regard for social responsibility in passing information, professional journalists considered the positive and negative impacts of stories before publishing them.

The educationist said citizen journalism could be used to promote development such as reporting crimes and accidents or augmenting the traditional media.

The don, however, lamented that the negative side of citizen journalism was more disturbing as it had caused Nigeria a trying time in our democracy.

“Of a particular example was the rumour that President Muhammadu Buhari was dead and that his look-alike, Jibril, from Sudan, was the one ruling Nigeria on contract.

“As the 2023 elections were near, if fake news were not discouraged, it could cast Nigeria into chaos,” he said.

The media scholar and public speaker, therefore recommended that citizens should exhibit self-regulation in posting information on social media.

He urged the government to sanction vendors of fake news without shutting down the medium of communication, adding that scholars should carry out more research on the impact of citizen journalism.

(NAN)

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