While the social media may have become a major instrument used to trigger fake news and others, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, has said the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technology can assist in fact-checking materials and protecting online child abuse and gender biased cyber-bullying
Teniola said this will need to be increased across all social media platforms to replicate the physical world of news publications and journalism.
Speaking with The Guardian on how the social media escalated #EndSARS crises in the country, he noted that without these tools being introduced it is going to be extremely difficult to police how Gen Z’s and Millennial use and adopt the social media platforms against how older generations easily relate to censorship due to culture norms and differences.
Further, Teniola said the Cybercrime laws will need to be updated to reflect the changing dynamics of the World Wide Web (WWW) and Internet.
“As we move into a digital economy, it is imperative that the lessons learnt over the past two weeks in Nigeria serve as input into new cybersecurity strategies for the nation. Schools need to introduce a curriculum that has cyber threats prevention and awareness into the teachings given to students as early as five years old and above, for them to be more discerning in their use of the Internet and social media platforms, especially how they can filter ‘false’ from ‘true’ information,” he said.
Commenting on whether the ills of social media are more than the advantages, Teniola recalled that in the early days of MySpace and other social media platforms, the focus was on sharing music and other multimedia files in a more closed user group environment, which wasn’t necessarily accessible by every Internet user via the World Wide Web (WWW).
According to him, after Facebook was able to popularise social media and provide a platform with billions of users, other platforms sprung up to compete with the attention and eye-balls of every Internet user.
“The more pervasive, the more diverse the opinions and the more divergent the material. Alongside the penetration of smartphone devices, the social media is now a platform that allows anyone to spread information rapidly across the Internet at lightning speed and without censorship. This has now meant the recipient of information needs to fact-check to ensure authenticity. Without this it is really very difficult to prevent misinformation and fake news from spreading fast,” he stated.
On his part, the Chairman, Mobile Software Solution, Chris Uwaje, said the social media landscape has become a complex enigma. Uwaje said this issue will remain for a long time and for many reasons such as global population growth, global revenue and distribution of wealth resources – where 82.1 per cent of the world’s wealth is owned by only 20 per cent of the world’s population.
He added that the shallow trust ecosystem and technology interface currently in existence has created enormous impact between nations of the world in their aspiration for advanced national development and security.
According to him, this has increased the stampede for prosperity and survival, “meanwhile, compared with the traditional world of oral communication the digital attitudes on misinformation and dis-information have increased exponentially. Compounded with the above scenario is the supersonic speed at which information is generated and transmitted.”
From his perspective, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jidaw Systems, Jide Awe, said there is a need to prioritize and embark on practical digital literacy for all.
Awe said to seize opportunities and overcome such challenges of the digital age, citizens must be equipped with digital education and 21st Century transferable skills.
“In addition to the use of common digital tools and applications, communications, team work, creativity and most especially, critical thinking skills are also key. Cyber security and technology ethics must be part of such digital literacy. All these non-tech skills are particularly important to ensure social media and technology is utilized and developed in a secure and responsible manner,” he stressed.
Awe further noted that the relevant government agencies must themselves get up to speed in terms of social media savviness to influence in ways that are sincere, honest, empathetic and credible.
According to him, they must facilitate the transparent and free flow of information to promote public interest on social media and counteract harmful practices and undue and unfounded speculation. He urged them to spread awareness and the handling of security and ethical violations. Identify mischief makers and take appropriate action rather than hinder the activities of all social media users in Nigeria.