The Media Against Fake News Initiative ( MAFNI), an anti-fake news advocacy organisation, met on Friday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, reviewed the state of the nation and observed as follows :
- The incidence of fake news has emerged as the greatest and the most potent threat to the survival of journalism and the nation as a whole. Falsehood, deliberate misinformation, has become a destabilization tool in the hands of many groups, thereby threatening the survival of the nation and endangering genuine journalists practicing their craft in the traditional space.
- Fake News has assumed a brazen, reprehensible dimension on some news platforms which not only publish falsehood but has shamelessly refuse to retract or publish rejoinder from their victims. They exhibit such arrogant impunity while recklessly breaching all known codes of journalism practice, the simplest of which is balancing and fair reporting. Such platforms have become a weapon of blackmail, extortion, and character assassination, soiling the noble image of the journalism profession and denting the credibility of media as a credible Institution.
- Fake News is now a tool of economic terrorism and sabotage as it weaponizes hate speech for the destruction of multi-billion naira businesses and properties while at the same time destroying the prospect of foreign investment in an emerging economy threatened with an imminent recession.
Having so observed as above, we consequently resolved as follows:
- We condemn in the strongest possible terms the purveyor of fake news within the traditional media, the new media, and social media. Their actions and activities constitute a direct threat not only to national security but to the survival of individuals and citizens whose safety and livelihood are jeopardized by consequences of disinformation and misinformation.
- We urge stakeholders in Journalism to rise against purveyors of fake news by exposing them, shaming them and fact-checking as a major task going forward in news reporting. For our collective and individual safety, we must act strictly to save the profession we so much love and to preserve ourselves from destruction by the conflict that may result from fake news dissemination.
- We call on media practitioners on all media platforms to observe basic rules of journalism especially in news reporting. Credible reporting enhances readership loyalty and deepens the business survival of media business. Fake News on the other hand destroys the standing and image of a platform, thereby squeezing it of readership and business sustainability.
- Lastly, we call on governmental authorities to apply the law concerning false reporting. Every right carries with its responsibility. Violators should be made to face the music whether such offenders operate on the new or mainstream media.
About Media Against Fake News Initiative ( MAFNI)
The group emerged out of deep concern over the growing trend of fake news which in recent times is driving the nation into serious conflict. Members are publishers of online newspapers, journalists across platforms, fact-checker specialists, public affairs professionals, and public-spirited citizens. MAFNI fact checks and advocate for the observance of rules of balanced reporting and news verification for credibility and integrity of the reporting process and outcomes.
- Ohia Israel. Interim Secretary-General
- Sophia Okiasi- Programme Officer