This is big news. Leaders NG reports that the “Nigerian Army says that it is monitoring the activities of Nigerians on the social media for hate speech, anti-government and anti-security information”. This is a huge deal, because if the Nigerian Army could do this effectively, Nigeria will be exporting the most sought-out social media technology to the likes of Google, Facebook, China, Venezuela, and indeed the whole world.
According to the information released by Director of Defence Information, Major-General John Enenche to Channels Television, the became necessary in the light of troubling activities and misinformation capable of jeopardizing the unity of the country….
Having observed the possibility that the social media can be misused the military has taken steps to address that. One of such steps is the establishment of strategic media centres.
“What are we doing? In the military, we are now taking on it more seriously than ever. We have our strategic media centres that monitor the social media to be able to sieve out and react to all the ones that will be anti-government, be anti-military, (and) be anti-security,” the military chief continued.
“We tackle them appropriately with appropriate responses. Ahead of that, we are also proactive. We have measures in place, scientific measures to be able to sieve this information and also to get the public and let them know that some of this information they are getting is not genuine are not true and their objective is an anti-corporate existence of this country.”
I sincerely wish the Nigerian Army good luck. I am hoping they succeed because if they do, our forex problems will be gone. From China to Russia, Facebook to Google, everyone needs fake news detector and terminator. If our military invents that and deploys it effectively, we could say goodbye to NNPC and just like that, our main foreign exchange earnings will be Fake News Detector and Anti-Govt Social Media Buster. Go figure, people.
Largely, I think the Nigerian Army is right to have a strategy to handle the misinformation which we are experiencing in social media. If we expect the Army to defend the territorial integrity of the nation in the meatspace, the cyberspace must be a fair game. it must be seen as a threat, depending on the veracity of the misinformation. It has to be dealt with and managed. That is why I think the Army is right on this.
Yet, it is very important that they handle this project with decency and civility, making sure that they do not use it to silence and oppress Nigerians. They must honor the tenets of freedom of speech while understanding that nothing is really free. No one that perpetuates fake news should expect to hide under privacy and freedom of speech.
I wish the Army good luck as they work on the technology. They have to invent one that understands pidgin, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and indeed dozens of other languages. It will be a challenge indeed.