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First DraftNews, ICIR unveil CrossCheck Nigeria to fight fake news


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AS the 2019 general elections draw closer, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and the FirstDraftNews have unveiled a website platform tagged ‘CrossCheck Nigeria’ to address the menace of fake news and misinformation in Nigeria.

The website is aimed at verifying news, pictures and videos that circulate on all social media platforms in order to authenticate or debunk claims emanating from such.

Speaking at the launch of the website in Lagos on Wednesday, Executive Director of ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan said Nigerians can freely log onto the website, post pictures, videos and any other information they want CrossCheck Nigeria to verify to curb the circulation of fake news in the country.

“It’s important to get ways to make journalism viable in today’s world. We are here today to find ways to combat misinformation that can affect our elections,” Aiyetan said.

While explaining the operations of the website, Managing Director of FirstDraftNews, Jenni Sargent, said the website uses research-based methods to fight misinformation and disinformation emanating from the social web.

Media executives at the event decried the worrisome increase of fake news in Nigeria, noting that journalists must uphold the core ethics of reporting the truth at all cost and times.

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A member of the Editorial Board of the Guardian newspaper, Martins Oloja, said fake news is ‘deliberate propaganda aimed at destroying the truth’.

While attributing the evolution of technology and social media as major factors for the growth of fake news, Oloja called on journalists to be more vigilant and dig deeper to maintain the role of gatekeeping for the society.

“The moment customers notice you are no longer credible, you are finished in journalism. The foundation is truth and accuracy and if you don’t have them in journalism, you will lose business,” he said.

Also speaking, the Publisher of The Niche newspaper, Ikechukwu Amaechi, advised journalists and media publishers to maintain their credibility at all cost, saying once your medium is no longer credible, the newspaper dies naturally.

“Daily Times was once the fastest selling newspapers before. But when it begin to publish more of propaganda as a result of government influence, it collapsed,” Amaechi noted.

Amaechi stressed that journalists need to make sure that they don’t compromise credibility.

Ronke Raji, who spoke on behalf of the CEO of Channels Television, John Momoh expressed concern about the way some Nigerians share misinformation on social media such as WhatsApp. She warns that such practice could set the country one fire if not curbed promptly.

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Pedro Noel of the AFP remarked that the “aim of this project is essentially to teach people that it is not difficult to check your information.

“We are all capable of checking information.”

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