President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday spoke on the dangers of misinformation and hate speech, and the need to defend the tenets of freedom of speech across the world.
He said the world must come together to ensure that the value and tenet of freedom of speech is being upheld by the people.
The president spoke at the opening session of the 11th edition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Global Media and Information literacy week at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja on Monday.
He spoke on the theme of the week, ‘Nurturing Trust, a Media and Information Literacy Imperative.’
Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, noted that misinformation had been used to aggravate conflicts and crisis, hence the need to work for a common standard that balanced rights with responsibilities.
He said, “As it is evident in our societies, getting reliable information is a constant battle. Media practitioners and stakeholders within the sector face the clear and present danger of misinformation.
“Misinformation has been used to aggravate conflicts and crisis, exacerbate insecurity, distort government efforts, fuel apprehension among the citizens and create distrust between the governments and their people.
“With regards to the use of social media which also underscores its potential to mould, shape and form opinion, we may note the following key statistics: 59% of the World population uses social media which represents three out of every five people on earth
“Average daily use is estimated to be about two hours 29 minutes which is approximately 149 minutes or 31 minutes shy of the equivalent of sitting and watching 2 consecutive football games of 90 minutes each
“Over 70% of the people who use social media are 13 years and older. Of the top four social media platforms, three are interactive sites – Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
“Here in Nigeria, with a population of about 220 million people, 37% is under 34 years and the country has about 100 million internet users, of which about 32 million are social media users.
“We fully recognise and are cognisant that technology and social media offer us nearly limitless opportunities which must be harnessed especially by the youth to strengthen the foundations of our society and our common values.”
He added, “However, in confronting challenges of rising misinformation and hate speeches, we must also come together to defend freedom of speech, whilst upholding other values that we cherish.
“We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities, to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich our communities. Most importantly, strengthen trust and social cohesion by improving critical thinking competencies to adequately assess the quality of information received and shared which I believe is a key component of the MIL programme this week.”