Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, believes that in order to curb the menace of fake news and misinformation in this period of coronavirus pandemic, government officials and agencies must willingly give out valuable pieces of information to the general public.
This he says, will to a large extent, reduce the high levels of speculation and agitation which arise as a result of curious individual minds and the spread of misinformation on the internet.
Speaking on issues of fake news and viable solutions to curb the trend, Mr Braimah told GhanaWeb in an exclusive interview that mass public education on the trend must be duly considered by government as a way of clamping down the menace.
“What’s important is to educate the public to help them to be media literates…that also requires that government agencies and the people who are the custodians of information willingly and proactively disclose information so that it doesn’t allow for speculation…,” he advised.
However, Mr Braimah struck out the use of legislation as a tool to ensure that fake news and misinformation are purged from the system. In his view, resorting to the use of a legal instrument would only mean that more people would be jailed than expected.
He said, “I’d always go for efforts that are intended to, as quickly as possible let the public know the truth rather than using legislation as a way to deal with the phenomenon of fake news. They are so many people who share information online with their friends…and post things on social media that are doing so thinking that what they’re sharing is true. So if we were to enforce that legislations…we’ll end up throwing so many people in jail…”
Sulemana Braimah’s advice comes after the several complaints about the proliferation of fake news and misinformation on the internet, most of which surrounds the discovery of a possible cure for the Novel Coronavirus, modes of treatment for the virus and government decisions.
In an attempt to spread caution about the unhealthy dose of fake news, he indicated that people must neither be in a rush to believe all they see on the internet nor be in a hurry to share news they see.