Fake news, hate speech violators to pay N5m fine –FG

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The Federal Government has concluded plans to regulate social media in Nigeria, just as it said the platform is currently out of control and capable of setting the country ablaze.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) already backed the move.

He also said fine for perpetrators of hate speech and fake new has been raised from N500,000 to N5 million.

“I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the social media space which, today, is totally out of control. No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration. That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both.

“There must be a point where a nation just responsibly take action otherwise, it will simply see the fabrics of its society torn apart. We’ve also been witnesses both here and abroad to consequences of hate speech and fake news.

“In Rwanda, over 800,000 lives were lost to hate speech alone. In Nigeria, here, we have instances of pandemonium and confusion caused by hate speech and fake news.

“So, for those who want to engage in disseminating fake news and hate speech, there will be no rest for them.

“We will make sure that these laws are implemented and that anybody who falls foul of these new recommendations would be punished accordingly but, those who are pursuing these noble professional manner have nothing to fear from the recommendations.

“We will not be the first country in the world to check recklessness of the social media.

“The United Kingdom is doing so. Singapore has done so. Honestly, the social media, as it is today, constitutes a real and imminent danger to this country.

“We have inaugurated an information committee to sanitise the airwaves but, if the feelers coming out is anything to go by, I think many Nigerians are also very disturbed about the menace of fake news and hate speech on social media.

“As a matter of fact, what goes to the social media is so ridiculous that we are also looking into how to ensure that we inject some form of sanity into it.

“We are going to take best practice all over the world. We are going to study other countries that have contained this because we simply can’t sit down here and allow somebody who simply has access to telephone and airtime to broadcast there is war in Nigeria when there is no war.”

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