The federal government has raised the alarm over the use of what is called “deep” fake news to attack it and its officials.
The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, raised the alarm in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Sal Island, Cape Verde yesterday.
The minister was in Sal Island for the 64th Conference of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) – Conference for Africa and second edition of UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum.
Mohammed said fake news had worsened by becoming a weapon for naysayers to attack government and its officials.
“As a matter of fact, Nigerians should know that we have graduated from ordinary fake news to “deep” fake news. The danger of deep fake news is that it is difficult to differentiate fake news from real news.
“This is because purveyors of deep fake news would take a story, be it a video or a photograph and make it look real.
“They will take videos of what is happening in other lands, doctor them and freely circulate them as what is really happening in Nigeria, ditto photographs.
“News stories are even worse, because they embellish such fake stories with quotes and videos and even quote government officials, as if they are real.
“This becomes more difficult for unsuspecting Nigerians to know the difference between the fake news and real information,” he said.
The minister noted that at the beginning, purveyors of deep fake news were largely unknown online publications, adding that it was, however, unfortunate that otherwise reputable publications and some mainstream media had joined the bandwagon.
Giving instances of deep fake news, the minister recalled the aftermath of the interview by Channels Television of Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom and a retired Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi.
“After the interview, online and traditional newspapers were awash with stories that the station had been shut, while some said that the anchor people had been arrested.
Some even went to demonstrate the purported arrest of the anchor people, but till today, the station is still open.
“These people have no shame because they know from the beginning that they are telling deep fake news, they have no credibility and can destroy anybody at will with their weapon,” he said. (NAN)