We are living in a modern world of technology where information travels swift. Many fake news messages which are shared on social media are spread fast and are rampant to an intractable magnitude. Earlier this month there were xenophobic attacks in South Africa mostly in Johannesburg.
The unbridled fake news will hurt the innovation and growth of the digital information ecosystem in the digital age. There are many fabricated and concocted fake stories circulating on social platforms.
Many images and videos ignited reprisal attacks and protests in Nigeria, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were later proven and discovered that they were fake. The footage was either old, from a different country or at best from xenophobic incidents of the past. Much fake news is flourishing and spreading on social media like wildfires.
There was fake news about Paul Kagame the President of Rwanda and the former president of African Union saying South Afrika must be expelled from AU. Daily Afrika spoke to Mayowa Tijani a professional AFP fact-checking journalist who is based in Lagos, Nigeria. He is currently in New York for the Goal Keepers Summit 2019.
Most of the bogus stories went viral on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook garnering millions of views, shares and Retweets.
According to Mayowa, it is an impenetrable no, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame did not tell journalists that South Africa should be removed from the African Union.
“On Kagame, this is what has happened he didn’t attend World Economic Forum in South Africa, but it was not because of xenophobic attacks but it was a decision he had made before the xenophobic attack even started. But because he was not there as the former president of the AU but somebody somewhere sits down and knit information to say that Kagame wants South Africa banned from the African Union because of xenophobic attack,”
“Now in that kind of information there are many ways to go around number one, you can just contact African Union to ask if Kagame said anything, they will tell you yes or no but in this case, it’s no. You could contact the Rwandan government to confirm or check online on Google Search if you could not find it which means it’s a lie. If you cannot find it which means there is no evidence. Use these three angles to fact-check, but there are many ways of fact-checking but you can only use what is best for the specific situation” he told Daily Afrika.
Tijani urged all social media to be curious when they want to prevent and curb the rampant news in our modern digital world.
“The first thing I want to say to social media use is that they have to be curious. If you see contents that are going around on social media, just ask yourself, Is this possible? Where did this happen? Why would this happen? Just ask yourself curiosity question, it leads you to the direction to know if its right or wrong. For example, if hear that the president of the country is dead you could run on a simple Google search, where did the president die? Sometimes it brings out stories or information from blogs that are not trusted. But when you see like 4,5,6 or 7 credible media houses that are reporting it you know that this is likely to be true. When you don’t see that it is likely to be fake news. So that curiosity is actually what social media users need a lot,”
“We should also resist from sharing things as a fact before I retweet anything on Twitter I have asked myself those curiosity questions. Is this possible? Where did it happen? Can I run a Google search? Is this information recent? For example, there is a video going around in Nigeria now that somebody said he is going to be the next president of the country and this video have been in around in circulation for a long time but they are just claiming and bringing that the story is new. But if anybody is curious to ask, where did he say this? Why did he say this? When did he say this? those curiosity question will lead you into knowing the truth of the entire situation.” he explained to Daily Afrika.
The AFP Fact-checking journo elaborated how fake newsmakers’ crafty operation and how they thrive on social media. Also, there was fake news which spread about a Nigerian separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu who visited Brussels last week, but the picture of him supposedly addressing the European Parliament has been edited, Mayowa also went into details about the spurious news.
“They mix truth with half-truth,for example Paul Kagame did not come for World Economic Forum in South Africa that is true, then they go ahead to say he did not come because of xenophobic attacks which is not true so that a lie but its mixed truth so they now advance it to say that Paul Kagame is even moving that African Union should ban South Africa so this is what I mean by mixing truth and half-truth something that is not true, what he can not confirm, with no evidence to support,”
“Another example with Nnamdi Kanu actually went to the European parliament in Brussels but he did not address parliament, so they took the truth of he went to parliament and they then add a lie that he addressed parliament so if you heard that Kanu went to parliament it then becomes easy to believe that he addressed parliament which is not true. So that is why we must be very careful about truth and half-truth that’s what I mean,” he told Daily Afrika as he concluded.