Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, says the media has the sole responsibility of cross checking information before disseminating to the public.
Professor Osinbajo made the assertion at a conference organised by the BBC world Service on countering fake news as Nigeria prepares for this year’s general election.
The Vice President said the Nigerian media had a stake in sustaining the nation’s democracy and national unity by display of professionalism in gate keeping.
Osinbajo said he had also been affected by fake news.
“I am also one of the very many targets of fake news. And it isn’t just for money, sometimes it may also cause you marital peace.
“I got a call in the office from my wife about three weeks ago or four weeks ago and she said Yemi, what were you doing with strippers? I said, ‘what to do you mean strippers?’ ”
He added that there had been a story on a very famous blog that said “Osinbajo Caught With Strippers” and there was a photograph of him standing between two perfectly clothed ladies, but just underneath it, the same ladies were not wearing much cloths.
Osinbajo added that as it turned out, he had in fact taken photographs with the two ladies at an entertainment event when they were perfectly clothed, saying by the time the story was put out, it was as though he had also taken the photograph with them when they were not clothed at all.
Osinbajo concluded that the capacity of fake news to cause great harm was not in doubt.
He also said frequently, particularly every day, he saw news that affected his work in one way or the other that were fake.
He said if nothing was done to halt the menace, a time will come when nothing will be believable.
“I think that if we discredit public information in that way, it is a massive danger for society itself aside from the capacity of fake news to cause physical harm and all that,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo, however, said it will be impossible to regulate the social media without substantially infringing on the fundamental human rights, especially freedom of expression.