Fake News, A Danger To Democracy -CDD

Victor Oluwasegun

Fake news has been described as a danger to Democracy, and the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD has urged all Nigerians to join the growing army of patriots determined to stamp it out,

This was the submission of Chris Aigbe, Senior Programs Manager, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), who spoke on Friday, the second day of the 2-day capacity building for Journalists and Civil Societies Organisations in the North Central Zone of the country.

The event, which toook place at the Grand Cubana Hotel in Abuja, was jointly organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the National Union of Journalists NUJ, and the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD.

In an interesting session, Aigbe while speaking on ‘Understanding Fake news/Disinformation and it’s Dangers to Peace, Election and Democracy’ tried to distinguish between fake news disinformation, misinformation and Propaganda positing that they are the dangerous children of the same father.

He said: “Concept of fake news’ propaganda and disinformation have the potential to polarise public opinion to promote violent extremism and hate speech and ultimately to undermine democracies and reduce trust in the democtatic processes.”

He described propaganda as: “Official communications usually from the government to the public that are designed to influence opinion. These information may be true or false, but it is carefully selected for it’s political effect.

“Propagandists emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasized or exclude those that do not.

“Propaganda often are misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired in the public audience.”

Aigbe noted that lobbying and advertising are forms of propaganda, but that the term is mostly used in the political arena.

He said Mis-information on the other hand, is false information shared with no intention of causing harm, while dis-imformation is false information shared intentionally to cause harm.

He said mal- information is true information shared intentionally to cause harm. He gave copius examples of the various types and the associated dangers to the participants.

“Democracy is in danger in the information age, it’s causing highly fragmenteed and divided society and a high level of inequality.

“Politicians are engaged in half-truths to wild conspiracy theories that are fabricated. Fake news’ is democracy’s greatest threat!”

Aigbe said false news by a UK born /based Nigerian caused mayhem in Plateau. State. He showed graphic images of violence that was contrived to citizens causing reprisals that killed many.

He said that a faceless FUNAM
false information in Nigeria shown through many channels causes disaffection in the country, adding that social media provides the fastest means to spread to milions.

“Your bias teaches your to treat others unfairly. There are all manners of information just to undermine what is true. It exacerbates socio cultural tensions. Disinformation can lead to violent actions.”

He lamented that the traditional media has lots of checks nowadays, “there were the editors and professional associations, now this is a new era, the internet age news process where there is just create and consume.”

He said fake news’ in definitely going to be part of the 2023 election and every Nigerian should join the campaign to stop it by saying ‘no to fake news’.

“We (CDD) are also involved in fact checking, and we build capacity of people who will join in the fight against fake news’ he said.


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