“INFODEMIC”: IHRC Calls Delta State Orientation Bureau
…To Amplify the Negative Effects of Misinformation and Disinformation in Building a Stronger Delta.
The International Human Rights Commission has called upon the Delta State Orientation Bureau on the need to dedicate credible resources and evidence-based approaches in amplifying the negative effects of Disinformation and Misinformation towards building a Stronger Delta.
In a statement issued by Fidelis Onakpoma, IHRC Delta Representative said that it is true that “freedom of expression is an important human right in a democratic dispensation which is essential for society to be autonomous as guaranteed in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. In pursuant to this article, it empowers the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information and also allows members of society to form their own opinion from happenings in the public sphere”.
Over time, Nigeria’s democracy had been threatened by unscrupulous citizens, leaders, community crises, religious crises, bad governance, disunity terrorism, and most recently fake news. These have greatly influenced the speed of building democratic institutions and infrastructural stability to the masses.
Disinformation according to dictionary.com says it is deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda with the desire to mislead.
While Misinformation is false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.
Fidelis noted that these are disturbing efforts to exploit crisis/misunderstanding to advance disunity or to target vulnerable groups, which could worsen as the strain on societies grows, and the economic and social fallout kicks in.
Disinformation erodes trust in institutions and in digital and traditional media and harms our democracies by hampering the ability of citizens to make informed decisions,” he said.
“It can polarise debates, create or deepen tensions in society and undermine electoral systems, and have a wider impact on peace and security”, he added.
I am bewildered on the level at which infodemic has plagued us. This is more worrisome as studies show that when false information is introduced to these echo chambers, it is viewed as credible as long as it conforms to the existing narrative.
There seems to be an existing narrative that aligns with fake news and spread faster. According to a 2018 study by three scholars from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), fake news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are.
In as much as it is hinged on our responsibility as a Human Rights Organization to abreast Nigerians on their rights to freedom of expression, it is necessary to state here that they should pause and verify before establishing their opinions. You should express your right in the right way.
Therefore, having in part of your commitment as a State Orientation Bureau in building a stronger Delta, we seize this medium to remind you that our new normal enemy is now “Infodemic”, and the need to amplify the dangers associated to disinformation and misinformation, the retrogression and its influence on our society cannot be overemphasized.
Comr. Gift O. Okeregha
IHRC Secretary, Niger Delta