An advocacy group, Search for Common Ground (SCG) in Nigeria, has urged publishers and media owners to invest in fact-checking of news stories to mitigate misinformation, disinformation and hate speech.
The group made the call on Wednesday, during an online forum on the effective strategies for monitoring and combating hate speech, especially in election period.
A panelist on the forum, Ebenezer Wikina, who is the founder of Policy Shapers, “a youth-led open source platform for policy ideas”, said some journalists were being used to promote hate speech in the society.
“Hate speech is a speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group and it can also incite violence in the society.
“The media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage or promote hate speech that causes conflict or violence in the society.
“This is why we urge media owners to invest in capacity building for journalists to fact-check stories, counter hate speech and reduce tension in the political space,” he said.
Mr Wikina also urged proprietors of media houses and the government to prioritise the welfare of journalists.
“Brown envelope syndrome is also used to promote hate speech and fake news and it has a negative effect on the practice of journalism in Nigeria.
“Therefore, staff motivation is necessary for eradicating the menace of brown envelope syndrome, fake news and hate speech among practicing journalists,” he said.
While presenting the SCG Hate Speech monthly report, Fatima Sadiq said the group tracked a lot of hateful comments relating to elections using TalkWalker technology on social media.
She said that the inciting comments were more on the social media platforms, and that they were capable of causing conflicts along ethnic lines, if not mitigated.
“On our part, we decided to share peace messages on social media as well as pass messages on the consequences of hate speech to deter people,” she said.
In his remarks, Perry Tukuwei, the media coordinator, SCG, urged journalists to uphold integrity, balance, fact-checking, fairness and objectivity in writing their news stories.
“During elections in Nigeria, journalists are used to advance the interests of certain political class and sometimes cause hatred and incite violence in the society.
“Journalists have a duty to verify the claims to educate and enlighten the public appropriately. This will help counter hate speech, misinformation and disinformation,” he said.
SCG is an international non-governmental organisation that works to end violent conflict and build healthy, safe and just societies.
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