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ABA! Army sensitises social media users, bloggers, journalist to dangers of fake news

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ABA! Army sensitises social media users, bloggers, journalist to dangers of fake news

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday organised a one-day seminar to sensitise social media users, bloggers, journalist to the dangers of fake news and misinformation on national security.

The event held in Aba, Abia State, was attended by over 300 social media practitioners and mainstream journalists in the state.

The theme for the 33rd edition of the nationwide seminar is “Enhancing national security through responsible use of social media.”

In an address of welcome, the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj.-Gen. Nosa Ugbo, said that the programme offered an opportunity for the military to cross-fertilise ideas with the youth on how best to deploy the social media and avoid causing a breach of the peace and security in the country.

Mr Ugbo, represented by the Director of Psychological Operations, Brig.-Gen. B.S Keji of the Department of Civil-Military Affairs, said the seminar was meant to chart ways for collective security responsibility, given that security is everybody’s business.

He said, “We held this kind of event in Damaturu in February. This is the turn of Abia and it is not by mistake that we choose Aba as venue. It is partinent we choose Aba, a nice industrious city of the state with energetic youths, who are mostly productive.”

Also, the Garrison Officer Commanding 82 Division, Maj.-Gen. Hassan Dada, expressed delight at the event, saying that it was worthwhile.

“I am delighted to be here for a great seminar for the social media users in Abia as it has been held in some other states of the federation. We give focus to social media users because of their pivotal role in nation building and they constitute the greater percentage of the society,” Mr Dada said.

A resource person, Dr Ehiz Odigie, who spoke on “Curtailing negative contents on social media: Responsibilities of users,” dissected the dangers of fake and unverified news on national security.

Mr Odigie urged the social media users to shun fake news which, according to her, causes more harm than good to national security, economy and society in general.

She said that fake news affects people’s legal conscience, mental being, emotions, financial, physical and security.

A lecturer at the Abia State University, Uturu, Prof. Joshua Ogbonna, also spoke extensively on “Fake news on social media and its effects on national security.”

Mr Ogbonna said that social media users as a segment of security agencies should play their role positively.

He contended that fake news deceives the public and adds to an already tense political climate by inciting communities against the security agencies.

“Fake news contributes to the polarisation of communities along ethnic, religious and political lines, eroding social cohesion and fostering mistrust between groups,” he said.

He further said that fake news could be curtailed, “if the media cultivated a culture of fact-checking and verifying information prior to publishing or posting.”

A popular Nollywood actor, Osita Iheme, popularly called “Pawpaw,” urged social media users to minimise what they post on the platforms and always confirm the  authenticity of their information before hitting the publish button.

“Social media was not created to cause harm but educate and sensitise the people to what is happening around them and should not be a tool to incite the public. Remember that whatever you send out on social media, describes who you are so use the media positively,” Mr Iheme said.

Prof. Uwaoma Uche of the Gregory University, Uturu in Abia, also buttressed the need for a more pragmatic and concerted approach toward combating fake news spread via social media.

Mr Uche regretted that the media space in the country was dominated by persons, who had no professional training in communication and mass media.

He feared that if not properly checked, the challenge posed by the wrong use of the social media to the country’s social security, might be a child’s play, especially with the advent of Artificial Intelligence and other evolving technological inventions meant to enhance communication.

Two participants, namely the Abia President of the Online Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Promise Okoro, and immediate past President of the Students Union Government, Abia Polytechnic, Aba, Edwin Chijioke, described the seminar as rich, educative and impactful.

They said that it further exposed the participants to how they could use social media responsibly because of their potency to cause social tension and security breaches of unimaginable dimension in the country.

The participants were issued Certificates of participation, while some of the guests received souvenirs from the army.

(NAN)

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