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The FactChecker

Using Fact-Checking and Information Literacy to Combat Hate Speech

By Michael Olatunosun

The opening clause of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) states that ‘Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state . . .’ and ‘accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.’

But these words, as potently binding as they are, may sound hollow in the ears of my countrymen and women who daily engage in the vile venture of perpetually probing the land for elements that bring disunity. Indeed, lingering economic crises and a set of complex political dynamics in the country are throwing up new challenges and threatening to unknot the delicately fragile unity and assumed social cohesion of Nigeria. Divisive discourses have taken over the air. Ethnic-oriented narratives like those perpetuated by groups like IPOB, MEND, Arewa,  and other secessionist agitators are daily receiving fiery fervour. Rumours calculated at causing confusion and unleashing conflicts are becoming commonplace. The heightening wave of farmers-herders crises and brutal bandits have added new levels of hate and mutual enmity.

But even more frightening is the increasing spate of hate and dangerous speech that is occasioned by the alarming upsurge of intolerance, ethno-social tension, and mutual suspicion among Nigerians. Just take a look around you and glance back, you would perceive the putrid and malodorous odour of unbridled killings of Nigerians of various ethnic backgrounds at the hands of fellow Nigerians from different ethnic origins–be they bandits, kidnappers, herders, etc.

But what is hate or dangerous speech?

Hate speech is any speech act ‘that denigrates people on the basis of their membership in any group, such as an ethnic or religious group that has a reasonable chance of catalysing or amplifying violence by one group against another, given the circumstances in which it is made or disseminated’.

In other words, dangerous speech is any speech that is aimed at inciting the audience to denigrate others. In a book, Defusing Hate: 

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Tip of The Week


There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

CLAIM: 4 Things that Can Make You Look Older than Your Age

SOURCE: Opera News

According to an article published on OperaNews, French fries, White Bread, White Sugar and  Processed meat can make their consumers appear older than their age. How credible is this report? 

Questions to ask yourself: who is the source? How credible is he/she? Did the report cite any references? Are the references accurate?

What you should do: Get your facts right before sharing further.

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