Social Media Becoming Weapons of Mass Destruction, Says Don
Social Media tools are becoming weapons of mass destruction in the hands of youths, Associate Professor Desmond Okocha, Dean, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Bingham University, has said.
Okocha made the remark in a keynote address at a symposium to mark the UNESCO 2023 Global Media and Information Literacy Day on Wednesday in Abuja. The symposium has the theme: “Youth, MIL, Digital Space, and Nigeria’s Transformation”. According to Okocha, how the youths use digital media is very crucial to the future of the country.
While noting that the youths make up 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population, he said the group had become consistently vulnerable with the volume of information they get and share via social media every minute.
He said that the widening usage of digital media had come with the challenge of fake news hence the need for digital media literacy to ensure decorum in its usage.
He pointed out that social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook had great potential for fast national growth.
Unfortunately, he noted, the same tools could also be used to bring down a nation.
He said that digital media, if well used, could curb misinformation and become a huge pillar for national bonding and cultural rejuvenation.
He suggested that people hurling fake news be penalised to deter others from doing the same.
Okocha emphasised the need to teach youths to use their data more positively to restore hope and mobilise Nigerians to push the nation toward greatness.
In his speech, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, said that the need for media information literacy had become very important in view of the increasing role of digital media in human lives.
“Today, we live in a rapidly evolving digital age, finding ourselves in an era where information flows freely and effortlessly.
“While the advantages are enormous, the digital revolution has also given rise to an era where people are more vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation which threaten the very fabric of our society.
“The prevalence of misinformation has taken a toll on our country and continues to pose a serious threat to our collective existence as a nation.
“It also poses a threat to the smooth operation of our democratic structures and ethos.
“Disinformation has equally eroded trust in institutions and fueled social divisions.
“It leads to violence and has become a tool in the hands of desperate and unscrupulous people to determine our world while hiding under the guise of freedom of information,” he said.
The minister, who was represented by Mrs Comfort Aiiboye, Director, ICT, thanked UNESCO for recognising the dire consequences of fake news and other aspects of disinformation to the world.
He commended UNESCO for taking bold steps to commence the process of articulating a set of global guidelines for regulating digital platforms.
“This is indeed commendable and we eagerly await its finalization and eventual implementation by member states,” he said.
Idris expressed optimism that the Media and Information Literacy (MIL) holds the answer to numerous concerns of stakeholders.
He said that MIL was essential for building limitless opportunities that the internet and digital spaces provide.
“MIL teaches us to create our content and share it in a responsible and ethical way,” he said.
He urged stakeholders to work together to overcome all challenges and attain the set goal of media and information literacy for all.
Noting that Nigeria is home to one of the largest youth populations on earth, he said young people were the nation’s greatest assets.
`Clearly, harnessing their potential would unlock the nation’s vast economic and social potential,” he said.
He said that the Federal Government was working with UNESCO and other relevant partners to integrate MIL into the nation’s educational system and also train journalists and other professionals on their roles in national growth.
Earlier, Mr Osamuadiamwen David, Representative of Media and Information Literacy Coalition of Nigeria, had said that MIL was a weapon against misinformation.
“With the rapidly changing media space, we must critically assess how information content is used and unite to tackle the challenges associated with that,” he said. #Social Media Becoming Weapons of Mass Destruction, Says Don Morocco’s Inflation Slows, Govt Plans $62bn Budget