I apologize for the title if you are offended by it.
Hoax about the death of a celebrity, persecution in Syria, charred bodies of people from killings in Nigeria Benue, lies and slanders about people which puts their reputation on the line — none of these is new on the social media space.
I may sound bias or inconsiderate by asserting that I get offended at carriers of fake news. You are telling me that you are outrightly dumb when you spread fake news — and I will get into why I think so in a bit.
That news is fake or not is not necessarily the reason why we should be so quick to circulate them. It is often said that rumors spread like wild fire. Most of the time, it sounds like a joke when such rumors are dispelled but they could have had adverse effects and even worse — up to fatal before they are dispelled.
People make bad decisions in their business, and relationships because of fake news. It psychologically affects others, such as when you hear fake news about the death of a celebrity you love. It could affect how people choose leaders in their country, among many other important choices they would have to make. It affects the public image of very good people. It wastes precious time as it leads to much ado about nothing.
Now that we have seen about just a little bit of what fake news could cause, we ask this pertinent question? How does fake news get transported, distributed and circulated. The answer is not far away — through human beings, you and me. We get a pop up on our WhatsApp, Facebook, Google+, twitter and other social media platform, and bam! We share without verifying or thinking about it. We tell others around us by words of mouth. Some go as far as copying and pasting the fake news on their own blog, others run vlogs and youtube videos about it — What?
We are the carriers of fakes news and any hoax should stop at your watch if you are intelligent enough, can keep your mouth shut for a while until you’ve done all you can to verify the news. If you cannot verify the news, then don’t let it go beyond you. You will find out soon enough if it is genuine or not.
I have left WhatsApp groups and other social media groups where fake news is being circulated. I’ll like to recall this particular fake news about the persecution a christian family in Kaduna — northern Nigeria. The video shared in 2016 showed elderly people in their 80s and 90s been beaten by young people. The aged were covered with palm fronds and set ablaze. I felt really sad when I saw this video — I could begin to feel streaks of hate for northerners. I stopped. I decided to search online if there are other sources that will confirm the same news. Alas! It was news from 2012 and it happened in Kenya around Mombasa. Some young men were trying to get their old ones to die, in order to claim their piece of land — that was bad but it was the real news. I read it up on the CNN website. I felt better and apologised softly in my heart to my northern friends for how I felt, because of FAKE NEWS!
With all the treatise I have presented here, it’s okay then to say that if fake news do not stop at your desk, if you allow them pass through you, you have acted dumbly.
I know there’s a lot of innovation and research going on from Facebook, Google and other companies to use technology to help filter out fake news. There are multiple blog posts addressing this same issue already. I am not sure if anyone has addressed it from the perspective of telling anyone who peddles fake news that they have taken the dumb test and have gotten an A!
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