September 29, 2021

Presidential aide accuses technology firms of promoting hate speech

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, has accused technology...

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, has accused technology companies of working against to the nation by promoting hate speech and fake news.

Shehu spoke in his response to a lecture at the maiden edition of the Jacksonite Professional Development Series organised by the alumni of the Department of Mass Communication, the University of Nigeria Nsukka, on Friday.

He said, “I think it is wrong to say that the government is focusing on the citizens alone when it comes to regulating hate speech.

“I think that the enemy is the technology companies and something must be done about it. Other countries have done so.”

He added, “I agree that fair speech has been a problem all over the world. For those of us who have had the privilege to serve, I tell my other colleagues, you can’t just wish the problem of hate speech away.

“Don’t be too aggressive in censoring people and the right of people to have freedom of expression. There is a line between hate speech and freedom of expression.

“However, when harm is being done, something must be done.  We as practitioners should note the need for freedom of expression is within reasonable limits.”

The keynote speaker, an associate professor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, Dr Nduka Otiono, spoke on the theme, ‘A captured media in an insecure nation: Democracy, hate speech and free speech on trial?’

He said, “While the media space can be repressed and suppressed, it cannot be captured. It would only undergo a mechanism to deal with government censorship.

“When we talk about fake news, it stems from social media. We have citizen journalism and professional journalism.

“Professional journalism can judge, purify, and peer review processes which guarantees a high level of the quality of what is published.

“This gatekeeping is not found online; it has disappeared in contemporary instant publishing. The media has a role to play to be quite impartial.”

Otiono added, “One of the emerging discourses to failed states is the issue of ungoverned territory. While we recognise the effort of the government, it is also important to recognise how it falls short.

“Increasing agitations on insecurity have become gasoline on the fight for freedom of expression. From Omoleyi Sowore to Nnamdi Kanu, to Sunday Igboho, and other agitators for a free Nigeria, would the media continue to remain independent considering the stakes the media have?”

While speaking on the emergence of hate speech in political advertising, Chairman, Lagos Porter Novelli, Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, said, “The challenge starts from the basics: What are the promoters trying to achieve? Check the background, there is a void when professionals are focusing solely on their professions.”

He added that the same void affected the promoters as there were no professionals in the affairs of the advertising.”

Chairman of the Professional Development Series Steering Committee, Chinedu Afigbo-Mba, a professor at Algonquin College, Ottawa said the next edition of the online workshop would hold in November.

Copyright PUNCH.

All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

Source link