Ahead of the 2023 presidential and governorship elections, the federal government of Nigeria has signed agreements with tech giants, Meta and Google, to tackle and curb the spread of fake news and promote the integrity of the forthcoming elections in Nigeria.
The agreements which were reached on Friday between the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and respective representatives from Meta and Google contained four demands which were presented by the Minister who was representing the federal government. The agreements which included cooperation by the tech giants with the federal government by flagging and taking down the post that is fake on their platforms,
While other agreements include;
– Working with security agents in Nigeria to take down posts that are aimed at inciting violence before, during, and after the elections.
– It was also agreed that election results not disseminated from original sources, are to be flagged as unverified and false by Meta and Google on their various platform.
– Meta and Google also agreed to make posts from official government channels, like the Ministry of Information and Culture, INEC, National Orientation Agency, etc., more prominent on their platforms.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed had earlier highlighted the importance of the elections to the country and the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigerians and the global community to enable and ensure a free and fair election is conducted in Nigeria, to which he noted the use of social media is a vital factor in the coming elections happening in Nigeria on Feb 25th and Mar 11 but of late the Minister expressed concerns over the use of fake news and disinformation on the social media platform to discredit the elections.
“There has been a gross abuse of social media platforms to purvey fake news and disinformation ahead of the elections. These unscrupulous people are resorting to the use of parody accounts, cloning of reputable media platforms, and the use of deep fakes to carry out their nefarious activities. For example, candidates’ campaign speeches are doctored to portray them in a bad light, and video clips and pictures of campaign rallies are tampered with to make them look poorly attended.”
He added that “Fake or unscientific opinion polls are concocted, while threats of violence in certain parts of the country are exaggerated. All of these are then circulated via social media to a wide audience, with the aim of making their target candidates look bad, influencing public perception or even suppressing votes in certain areas.
“We have therefore invited you, platform owners, here so we can work together to reduce these negative tendencies before, during, and after the forthcoming elections”.
However, before the agreement was reached between the tech giants and Federal Government, Meta disclosed that it had set up a cross-functional team that is spread across the world to monitor posts by Nigerians, before, during, and the after the elections, especially on Facebook and Instagram.