The Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said the fake news that can cause The Third World war could emanate from Nigeria if not curbed or treated as a crime.
He stressed this while speaking alongside other panelists including the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN in Abuja at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Conference, on Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake News.
Other panelists present were: Director, BBC World Service Group, Jamie Angus; President, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Funke Egbemode; Founder, Bella Naija, Uchechukwu Pedro. Also a National Commissioner who represented the the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Festus Okoye.
According to him: “People do not understand what it’s like to have things attributed to you which you know nothing about. Apart from the fact that I have been killed on social media several times.
“This last year I had telephone calls asking me where are you and I said I am in hell. And I said I know why you are calling because you thought I was dead. Imagine waking up one day and finding a statement attributed to you and in a kind of language which you never used.
“For example during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, there were statements that said that I asked why Jonathan married an illiterate woman. I never made comments like that whatsoever. Those who share fake news are sick in the head.
“And I made a statement that if people are not careful world war three may quickly start by fake news and that fake news probably will be generated by a Nigerian.
“We have a system where fake news can multiple in a second. Many of the fake news carriers use it for business. I have someone whom we have tracked down in Poland, using a fake Facebook page of my name and my picture.
“And I gave him a deadline to pull down the page. He’s from the United States of America but lives in Poland. He is a member of an organisation called some AIESEC which actually encourages young business men and women,” he said.
“The first thing is to accept the fact that fake news is real and people should stop rushing to the fake sites. Individuals who have no voice before have been empowered suddenly.
“Every individual is now a journalist, editor promoter and most of all a publisher. There is competition to be the first to comment. So, the ‘419’ individuals sleep in cafes doing all sorts of things. Fake news should be treated as a crime,” he said.