Fake news can trigger 4th world war, says Pantami 

Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, has said that fake news and disinformation can trigger the 4th world war if the world is not careful.

Prof Pantami said this while featuring on the ministerial panel focused on national media and information literacy framework at the ongoing Global Media and Information Literacy Week in Abuja.

“We must be careful about how information is managed locally and internationally,” he said. “Misinformation could be the declaration of the 4th world war globally. It is our collective responsibility to fight misinformation. Look at the implications for your country, continent and the world.”

Prof Pantami also emphasised the role of journalists in combating ‘fake news’ while tasking them on the need for verification of information. 

“A journalist’s work is verifying what information has been sent and not repeating what was said. What is legal and legitimate online is legal and legitimate offline. What is illegal and illegitimate online is also illegal and illegitimate offline.” 

The minister noted that he is aware that UNESCO prefers not to use the term ‘fake news’ because if it is fake, it is not news. 

While speaking on the ways to mitigate disinformation and misinformation, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the fight against this menace should be a joint effort between governments, tech companies, CSOs and the population at large.  

Citizens need the skills to interrogate and analyse the credibility of the source of information before sharing, he noted.

“We must join hands to address the scourge threatening our existence, the minister said. “In 2018, we launched the National Campaign against ‘fake news’ collectively calling on citizens to put our hands together to stop misinformation in society.”

Also at the forum, the Minister for Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, noted that when youths and children are taught media and information literacy, it will help them to differentiate between fake and quality news. 

“Teaching media and information literacy in schools would help the young ones appreciate quality news, and to achieve this, parents must be media and information literate themselves,” he said. 

Intervening during the exchanges, Dr Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, called on participants to commit to the “imperative action of making citizens media and information literate, which is critical to navigating in today’s digital world.” 

He added that there is an essential need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to distinguish reliable quality information from misinformation.

The special forum is part of the day two sessions of the week-long Global Media Information and Literacy week in Abuja. 

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