While denying the false report of President Muhammadu Buhari purported plan to travel to the United States on Sunday, Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed disclosed that he does not have social media accounts.
“Numerous parody accounts have been opened in my name on the two platforms, when indeed I have no Twitter or Facebook accounts,” he stated while urging Nigerians to disregard what was credited to him.
The minister also recalled how the same parody Twitter account, @MohammedLai used to disseminate the fake news about the President’s purported trip was employed to circulate a fake report that he sharply criticised Senator Dino Melaye for attending the Notting Hill Carnival in the UK.
He said these two instances highlight the dangers posed to the polity by the purveyors of fake news and disinformation, and vowed that the Federal Government would soon fish out those behind the shenanigans.
I sympatise with the minister that the false sensitive information was credited to him by some faceless individuals who create parody accounts in the name of others, especially top government officials to misinform the public.
I totally agree with the minister that “Fake news, disinformation and hate speech are the antics of the naysayers, those who are pathologically opposed to this administration.” Everyone on the internet, including Nigerians as he counseled need to be more discerning and should double check any information emanating from the social media.
However, notwithstanding the wrong use to which social media accounts are being deployed, the minister cannot continue to justify not having Twitter or Facebook handles.
The accounts are too important in the present information age for information dissemination for any government official like the country’s information minister not to have.
If President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and many other top officials of the federal government have social media accounts, why should the spokesman of the government not have verified handles?
Parody accounts will always be created by mischief makers, but when the real ones exists and are used regularly, it will be easy to distinguish between fake and real information.
Alhaji Mohammed should take a cue from many members of this administration who are effectively using the social media to disseminate information to prevent the naysayers from taking advantage of his absence on the too-important to ignore platforms.
He doesn’t need to operate them himself like most top dignitaries do. He can get tech savvy assistants to keep Nigerians informed through the platforms and match the naysayers tweets for tweets.
Source: The Nation