Former Governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, has challenged members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) to sanitise the social media being used by untrained Nigerians to promote hate across the country.
Chief Osoba, who spoke as chairman of the second annual conference of GOCOP in Lagos on Friday, admitted that social media has brought what was thought to be tomorrow to today, but regretted that many Nigerians are abusing it and that it is manifesting in the shape of fake news and unverified information.
The elder statesman, who was represented by the Executive Director of Diamond Award for Media Excellence, Lanre Idowu, noted that some bloggers are in the habit of promoting mischief and blackmail.
All such negative aspects of social media, the former governor said, threaten the integrity of the online medium.
“It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour? How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?
“I am aware your association is made up of responsible journalists but all it takes for your reputation to be sullied is a handful of the deviant people, who have other objectives for their presence in the public sphere. Whilst I will be looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations, I note that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of our country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon.
“Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism. Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process,” he said.
Osoba stressed that the media has a major role to play as impartial arbiters that should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views.
He said that it is good to get the news first but that it is better to get it right.
“Your association should drum this point into the hearing of your members for if there is a medium that has the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it is the online media.
“In a country with still a large population of the uneducated, we must be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.
“I urge you to remain apostles of good journalism where facts remain sacred and informed commentary is free.”