Nigeria’s foremost fact-checking platform, Dubawa, has embarked on a weeklong event aimed at educating Nigerians on combating disinformation and stopping the spread of false information through fact-checking.
The platform did this during a street-to-street awareness across the country on Friday.
The nationwide awareness was the concluding part of the weeklong programme dedicated to engaging Nigerians on intersections between freedom of expression and civic engagement, and expansion of fact-checking as a way of spreading truthful information across the country.
The activities included information literacy sessions for basic and secondary schools, social media engagement on false information and fact-checking, the launch of 2019 Dubawa fellows and the street-to-street awareness.
Earlier in a statement, the programme officer of Dubawa, Ebele Oputa, harped on the need to spread the truth in the wake of fake news which often endangers the security and development of a nation.
“Regardless of our philosophical or most times sentimental, differences on the existence of truth, what remains is a common acceptance that false information or fake news could harm just about anybody – young or old, rich or poor,” she said.
She said the platform was born out of the desire to educate people on how to spot potential fake news and make leaders and themselves accountable through fact-checking to stop misinformation.
The fact-checking awareness took place in seven states, namely: Kano, Sokoto, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, and the Federal Capital Territory.
Dubawa volunteers across the country went round to sample Nigerians’ knowledge of fact-checking and hear their views on fake news.
Most of the respondents believed false information and disinformation often trended more on the social media.
During a vox pop on the street of Abuja, a respondent, Abdullah Etsemeyuno, 45, said he was often wary of the content of information put on the internet as “the social media houses large chunk of fake news.”
When asked how he determined the validity of information he got, the forty-five year old said, “I verify them from various reputable news platforms.”
Another respondent, Agnes Blessed, 56, said she confirmed “from God whatever information people give me, even if it is from my husband and children.”
When she learnt she could verify a claim herself, she expressed happiness over the new knowledge she acquired through her encounter with Dubawa.
A Kano respondent, Bashir, said the effects of fake news in Nigeria could be grave and instigate ethnic violence.
“Sharing fake news is dangerous because of its implications on the sentiments of the citizens in a multicultural society like Nigeria,” he said.
Dubawa is Nigeria’s first indigenous independent verification and fact-checking project, initiated by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), to amplify the culture of truth in public discourse, public policy, and journalistic practice.