THE Federal Government says it is working to sanitize the social media space, which, according to authorities has gone totally out of control.
At a press briefing in Abuja, Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed “since we inaugurated our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have demanded that we also look into how to sanitize the social media space.
“I can assure that we are working on how to inject sanity into the social media space, which, today, is totally out of control because no responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space.
“The capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration is high and that is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both.”
Soliciting the support of the media to banish fake news and hate speech from the media space, Mohammed recalled that the government on July 2018 inaugurated a national campaign against fake news and hate speech as he recalled that he had taken the campaign to the doorsteps of many media houses.
The Minister said even when the campaign had brought discussions on the menace to the front burner, fake news and hate speech had been going worse.
Mohammed explained that the government, in sanitising the social media, “has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech. Our campaign is against fake news and hate speech, however, if you engage in disseminating fake news or hate speech, you need to be worried, because we will not spare you.
“We cannot allow fake news and hate speech to become free speech, because these siamese twins of evil are capable of inflicting untold damage on our democracy and threaten our national unity. They represent a clear and imminent danger to our survival as a nation.”
The minister recalled that within the context of the campaign, he recently inaugurated an effort to rid the airwaves of fake news and hate speech.
He said the campaign was sequel to the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections.
“I set up committee on the implementation of the recommendations that were approved by the President to inject sanity into the nation’s broadcast industry,” he said.
Mohammed highlighted the terms of reference of the committee to include independence of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
He said the committee would also review the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5 million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
According to him, “willful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station to attract suspension of license.
“Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to “Class A’’ offense in the Broadcasting Code.
“Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTv and radio stations.”
The committee was also end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the potential of the broadcast industry.
The minister said that once the committee submitted its report, the government would kick-start the implementation of the approved measures to inject sanity into the broadcast industry.
He assured that no level of sponsored attacks would stop the implementation of the recommendations.