Fake News, Hate Speech Aggravating Sokoto Crisis, PRNigeria Raises Alarm
Fake news and hate speech are escalating the already tensed situation in Sokoto, following the gruesome killing of a female student, Deborah Samuel over alleged blasphemy and the subsequent violent protest in Sokoto State, PRNigeria reports.
One of the fake news items was shared by the Catholic Broadcast Commission Nigeria on its Facebook page that has over 90,000 followers. The CBC made a post earlier that the Catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese, Matthew Kukah’s house was set ablaze by rioters.
The post read: “Carnage in Sokoto today: Aftermath of violent protest in Sokoto today. Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Bishop Kukah’s house and Catholic Pastoral Centre which were built with over N1 billion naira have been burnt down by hoodlums who are protesting the arrest of those who murdered Miss Deborah Yakubu.”
However Bishop Kukah himself debunked the claim.
The Bishop said no life was lost in the said riot and noted, “Contrary to information in circulation, we wish to disclaim that there was an attack of any sort on the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”
Another case of a video trending, claimed that Northerners are now attacking southerners.
“The Northerners are now protesting and destroying things that belongs to the Igbos? How did they drag Igbos into this thing now?,” one of the tweets which has now been shared severally claimed,”
Another tweet claimed, “These lots have started going into houses to pick the Christian’s up and attacking them …If you’re a Christian in Sokoto . Lock your door and stay in door … It’s madness out there ….”
But PRNigeria’s analysis of the comments and reactions under the posts suggest the claim is not accurate.
Some responses on the tweet claimed that it was an old video of a suspected child trafficker who was arrested for abducting a child.
Speaking on the latest development, the Head of Investigations and Fact-Check Desk of PRNigeria, Dahiru Lawal said that there was an alarming trend where social media users were misinforming disinformation their audiences to exacerbate the already tensed situation.
Lawal said: “Emotions are aggravated on both sides with fake news and hate speeches flying around and further deepening the crisis with the fear that it could lead to an unpleasant descent. We are already seeing a similar pattern with the EndSARS protest evolving in some areas.
“We tried to trace the source by breaking the video into keyframes and doing google, tineye, bing and yandex reverse image search of the keyframes but that didn’t lead to any firm result. So there’s still unsusbtantial evidence to prove the claims associated with that particular video even though many have confirmed that the video is not recent and has been in circulation for over a year. We are still tracing and will make our findings public,” Lawal explained.
Beyond the fake news, the attendant reactions are contributing to the hate speech further enraging already frayed nerves. Those expressing contrary views are being disparaged, threatened or attacked.
In response to some social media posts suing for peace, comments like “faceless and shameless pigs,” remain glaring.
When the Editor in Chief of PRNigeria, Yushau Shuaib, posted on his facebook timeline the views of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat which states that, “the biggest enemy of Islam is the ignorant Muslim, whose ignorance leads him to intolerance; whose actions destroy the true image of Islam and when people look at him, they think that Islam is what he is,” Mr Shuaib was labeled a hypocrite and threatened with lynching by a facebook user, Abubakar Abdulnasir.
In a similar chain of unfolding events PRNigeria has uncovered several parody accounts used to propagate inciteful comments and posts on the matter.
“As at las count we have unfolded not less than 70 of such fake accounts that are used to attack other personalities and their religions,” Lawal revealed.
He further explained that parody accounts can easily be detected by examining a profile activity, recent posts, tracking IP address and location and detecting how recent a given social media account was created.
“Profiles newly created in the heat of such a crisis and are posting on such issues are most likely parody accounts created just for the purpose,” he explains.
PRNigeria’s Editor in Chief, Yushau Shuaib, expresses worry about the development.
“It’s a pity that information disorder is now used as a weapon of war to further polarise and justify acts that will lead us to a greater mess than we are already in with the Sokoto situation,” he decried.
He vowed that, “even if we remain the only one standing, we will continue to sacrifice our media platforms for the dignity and sanity of humanity by checkmating information disorder and ensuring that we put out the authenticated information out there for public good.”
Meanwhile, following the violence, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the metropolis to restore order in the city.
Deborah, a second-year student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, was killed on Thursday following an allegation that she had blasphemed the prophet of Islam.
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Report By: PRNigeria.com