2019 polls: Abuja residents decry proliferation of fake results via social media

By Ijeoma Olorunfemi/Ikenna Uwadileke
#TrackNigeria: Some residents of Abuja on Wednesday condemned the proliferation of fake news and results on social media
platforms during the 2019 presidential and National Assembly (NASS) elections.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that the phenomenon was one of the biggest problems that could truncate
the political exercise.

Mr Lucky Idyo, a social media user living in Abuja said that the platforms that should serve as avenues to strengthen democracy  “are
now just doing the opposite’’.

According to him, politicians and their supporters fail to use social media platforms effectively to promote issue-based campaigns,
enlighten the populace, impart knowledge and unite the country.

He added that “instead, they use platforms such as twitter, instagram and Whatsup to promote campaign of calumny, propaganda and
hate speech.”

An Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, Mr Ademola Johnson, urged Nigerians to avoid hate speech and
fake news messages on social media so as not to stir up post election violence.

According to him, Nigerians must accept the outcome of elections and remain peaceful.

He said “we must be reminded that communities have been fiercely divided along ethno-religious, socio-political
and racial lines, especially with fake news circulating on social media.

“Politics is becoming brutal, nasty and cruel.

“Part of the reason is that some people spread outlandish falsehood and denigrating statements on social media, aggravating
anger in some cases, induce mob attacks and extremism.

“We must be careful over what we share on social media platforms concerning elections, as well as other sensitive issues.”

Mrs Judy Ndubisi, a social media user, emphasised that fake election results earlier reeled out on social media were misleading.

According to her, although there are over 92 million Nigerians using the internet, not all are connected to the social media platform.

She added that “however, this modern communication platform affords large majority of people the opportunity to communicate
effortlessly with wider audience.

“This is because the rapid evolving technology and the changing media landscape reshaped communication mechanism to be
instant and participatory.

“So, people leveraged on this to share unverifiable results instead of relying on the final results by the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC),’’ Ndubisi said.

Another social media user, Malam Danladi Yusuf, advocated relevant laws to regulate social media contents.

Yusuf said that everyone who had read news on social media would probably fall victim of fake news.

According to him, even the mainstream media are not spared.

He added that “in an attempt to remain relevant in the face of obvious threat posed by social media to their very survival, social media users
fall victims of fake news.”

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to be weary of election results that may circulate on various social media platforms in subsequent elections.

NAN reports that prior to the presidential and NASS elections, INEC admonished Nigerians to disregard results on social media,
noting that it was the only body constitutionally empowered to declare the results. (NAN)

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