By Salim Yunusa

The simplicity of communication in the 21st is unprecedented. In a matter of seconds, messages travel round the world; literally spreading faster than wildfire. The dawn of internet brought forth the birth of social media and rise of many social applications where communication and social interactions take place. Unfortunately, it also brought along the rise of fake news and spam messages.

I can still vividly remember the first time I received the now infamous broadcast message on WhatsApp about a job opportunity in a “private university in Abuja” targeting young people with a Bsc in most of the courses from the Faculty of Environmental Design. Naturally, I was excited and quickly sent in my CV and then forwarded the message to my class WhatsApp group. I was just fresh out of the university, without even going through the NYSC scheme. I had to try my luck and see where the wind blows from there.

That was five years ago.

No response, no acknowledgement, no call back for interview… Only the same broadcast message that resurrects and finds its way back to my phone every few months. At first, it was just a twinge of disappointment when I didn’t get “the job” which, over the years, turned into a burnt out joke among friends. Comments like “I hope it isn’t another Malookaita o!” is common among my friends.

In an article written by Iqbaal Mansoor (2020), “According to official WhatsApp statistics, as of May 2018, WhatsApp users sent 65 billion messages per day. On average 29 million WhatsApp messages are sent per minute (as of 2017 – this may be even higher now),” he said.

Right now, the biggest threat to credible and reliable information across the easier and faster social media Apps is the dissemination of fake news which may lead to misinformation and in some cases, inciting hate and violence to a particular group or individual. Through the spread of doctored information, people have fallen victims to internet fraud. It is safe to say that fake news and misinformation is one of the biggest threat to information worldwide in the 21st century.

It is our duty to check and verify the information we share to others; and that the spread of fake news start with you and me. Google is just a click away to actually verify all the content out there. In a world that is increasingly becoming divisive and filled with hate due to the kind of messages we churn out, we owe it to ourselves to put out credible, true and useful content to all and sundry.


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