Without a doubt, social networks including, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs and other online platforms are here to stay thereby creating new and faster ways of spreading and receiving information.
At present, anyone can make use of the unlimited possibilities that Internet offers, immediately starting to create street journalism without any obstructions, being both a journalist and editor at the same time. Using media such as Facebook or Twitter, they can offer their stories to a global public, without any filters. This is information that, for the first time, does not have to be sent to readers through any mediator, that is, via the mass media, in the traditional sense of the word.
The transformation has brought about citizen’s reporting which can also be referred to as citizen journalism or collaborative media, participatory journalism, democratic journalism, guerrilla journalism, or street journalism which is based upon public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.
The importance acquired by social networks and blogs as sources of information has made them a permanent part of the landscape, one which the traditional media must deal with. Though the newspaper industry has long seen the Internet as a threat, the reason is clear; the old business model is endangered by the possibilities that the immense network offers all those who have time to write and share information with as little as a mobile phone. The transformation has further given rise to the increase in fake news, rumors, hate speech and harmful stereotypes.
Even newspapers and notable journalist that enjoy a unique advantage in their brand, the seal of trust, of quality, which they have built over many years that, at least until now, gives them credibility, and generates confidence among their public, have been occasionally swayed with fake news, rumors as they have also started to integrate to this new form of information dissemination.
Essentially, these new forms of citizen journalism offer the traditional media/seasoned journalist a source of information that may prove to be extremely important.
Due to the sensitivity of the information and how it tends to affect society, it is therefore important for citizens to act responsibly whenever they come across any form of fake news, rumors, hate speech or harmful stereotypes.
In embracing the new technological advances that have taken root, citizens with such potentials must act responsibly and know that whatever they share can affect others positively or negatively.
The question mostly is what to do when you come in contact with fake news, rumors, hate speech and harmful stereotypes? Here are some suggestions on what to do;
- Think before you share any information: you must think before you share any information and ask yourself if it is true? Is it useful? What reaction will it cause?
- Verify information before spreading it: It very important that one verifies the information that is passed down. One of the best ways of verifying information is by check such information on credible news sources, platforms or calling the source of the information for further clarification.
- If you find the information to be false, delete it – Do not share false information as trying to show others that the information in itself is fake, just simply delete it as any further share will lead to promoting it.
- If possible, leave comments about the information being false to dissuade others from sharing it.
- Be conscious of the power of your words and the violence they can cause when you share information that will provoke anger and hatred.
- Read things through to know if it is true or worth sharing before sharing and forwarding information.
- Try to see people as individuals and don’t give in to stereotypes and generalizations.
- Never use someone’s ethnicity, religion, gender, or occupation as an insult.
- Please distinguish what to share and what to report to the authorities
What to do when you come in contact with fake news, rumors, hate speech and harmful stereotypes – is a campaign by the Community initiatives to promote peace (CIPP). The project is a response to the increasing threat of violence in high-risk states in the North-west (Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina States) and North-central (Kogi, Benue, and Plateau States) parts of Nigeria.
This ongoing CIPP campaign was developed to increase the ability of community members in CIPP project States to understand the dangers of fake news, hate speech and rumours by enlightening them on how to verify information received on social media.