Social media has been described as a nightmare to image makers because of disinformation claims through fake and distorted news, making image makers in both public and private sectors victims of their trend.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this in Lagos at the opening of the 4th Commonwealth Public Relations Congress organised by the Management School, London and the Business Education Examinations Council.
He said in this new age, anyone with access to a smart phone can put out any information, whether accurate or not, that could go viral in minutes. According to him, the information is just spread with no fact-checking, no accuracy, no fairness, and no rules.
Lai Mohammed said that the trend is global, affecting international and local affairs including the recent U.S. elections, stressing that locally, it has made the job of government image makers so daunting that it is denying them of sleep.
“Government image makers now sleep with one eye opened, that’s if we sleep at all, because while we are sleeping, the purveyors of distorted and fake news are busy cooking their stuff.
“I cannot count the number of times that I have been removed from the Information and Culture portfolio on the social media in the past year, or that Ministers have swapped portfolios.”
Lai Mohammed therefore, charged PR practitioners to devise innovative ways to ensure a better, charged-way communication network between their employer and the people.
In tackling the challenge, the minister said that in addition to radio, television, newspapers and the new media, his ministry revived an age-long practice of Town Hall Meeting to engage people directly and get their feedback on topical issues.
The minister seized the opportunity to refute the fake report that President Buhari gave $500 million to Hilary Clinton during the U.S. Electioneering Campaign.
Reports say, Google has stated its plans to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its advertising network, while Facebook said its ban on deceptive and misleading content also applies to fake news.