Buhari on fake news: Digital space difficult to regulate

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President Muhammadu Buhari says it is difficult to regulate what comes out on digital platforms.

Buhari spoke when the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by Chris Isiguzo, its president, paid him a visit at the presidential villa on Thursday.

The president sought the cooperation of the journalists while urging them to do their bit by combatting fake news and reporting the truth.

According to him, the media profession is “undergoing a fundamental shift” while threatened by “uncontrolled and unregulated news platforms”.

The president assured the members of the fourth estate of the realm that security agencies will protect them “especially those operating in hostile environments”.

Buhari further said that his government will not relent in fighting corruption and insecurity in the country.

“As I look to the next four years, I will remain committed to a safe and secure nation; creating an inclusive and diversified economy; and a governance system that is free of corrupt practices,” Buhari said.

“In all these areas, we will remain transparent in implementing our policies. In return, I seek your support in ensuring that you report the truth. You must not allow yourselves to be influenced by individuals with divisive motives.

“I therefore seek your cooperation to bring a sustainable end to this menace. As a Government, we are already cooperating with our international friends and allies on this matter. But we cannot do it alone. You also have to do your bit.

“Your profession today is undergoing a fundamental shift. For better or worse, the digital space is now becoming the major outlet for ‘news.’ This space is difficult to regulate and police. In many instances, the participants in this medium are not trained or professional journalists.

“The stories they present are neither factual nor true. However, through the digital platform, they are able to reach millions and create an alternate reality in their minds.

“I am sure you will all agree that the biggest threat to the sustainability and credibility of your profession is the uncontrolled and unregulated news platforms operating in the cyber space.

“This is not only in Nigeria, but across the entire globe. Innocent lives have been lost or destroyed due to this ‘fake news’ phenomenon. Many of the perpetrators of these acts do not even live within our shores. However, they have been able to damage the reputation of hard working Nigerian journalists while at the same time promoting conflict and divisions within our society.”

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