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How Fake News And Social Media Threatened My 40 Year-Old Marriage – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed has explained how fake news and social media threatened his 40-year old marriage.

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Fake News And Social Media
Nigeria's former minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s former minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed has explained how fake news and social media threatened his 40-year old marriage.

VerseNews reports that Lai Mohammed spoke in Lagos at an event to commemorate the 90th birthday anniversary of Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate.

Mohammed explained that one of the pressing challenges he faced in office as minister was the spate of fake news and social media, misinformation and disinformation.

Speaking on how the menace almost ruined his marriage, Mohammed said the consequences of fake news and social media, disinformation and misinformation were far-reaching

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“Permit me to share publicly with you today for the first time, how social media threatened the foundation of my forty-year-old marriage,” he said.

“It was sometimes in 2018 when I came to Lagos from Abuja for an official assignment. As usual, I retire to bed about midnight, but about 3 am, my wife gently roused me from my slumber.

“At first, I panicked, fearing that there had been a security breach, but my wife’s mien belied that possibility, for she was calm and composed.

“Solemnly, my wife asked me if I was fully awake as there were some serious issues to discuss.

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“I could not fathom what was that urgent or serious to warrant being woken up at this time of the night.

“My mind immediately did a kaleidoscope of my rascalities and escapades in the last few months.”

The former minister said the accusation from his wife was “a bombshell”.

“Daddy, death can come knocking at any moment, please let me also, as your wife, be a signatory to your oversea account in Ali Financial which contains 1.3 billion dollars,” his wife reportedly said.

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The former minister said he could not believe that his wife could believe the fake story in circulation crediting huge sums of money in overseas accounts to government functionaries/ministers under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“I spent the next two hours or so, sweating to convince my wife that there is no iota of truth in the allegation,” he added.

“I had to fetch a calculator and reproduce the federal appropriation act for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the middle of the night and explain to her why it is simply preposterous for me to have 1.3 billion dollars in a foreign account.

“I explained to her that there is no year my capital budget exceeded N5 billion, which then, at about N400 to a dollar, was just 12.5 million dollars.

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“I explained that, even if I managed to divert every kobo of it to my personal account, it will take at least, 104 years to save the sum of 1.3 billion dollars being peddled that I stole.

“My wife insisted that the whole world believed the story and that her friends had as a result, besieged her with all kinds of requests.

“She said every effort on her part to deny the existence of this foreign account only succeeded in depicting her in the minds of her friends as a selfish, greedy and uncaring friend.

“Is my wife truly convinced of my innocence? The answer is in the wind!”

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‘Fake News and Social Media: DISINFORMATION IS A SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY’

Mohammed reiterated that social media remain the platforms of choice for the purveyors of fake news, anti-state groups, anarchists, secessionists, terrorists and bandits.

He noted that while in government, his ministry uncovered 476 online publications that were dedicated to spreading fake news against the previous administration.

Mohammed said fake news has become exponential through the use of Artificial Intelligence and deep learning techniques to create highly realistic fake or manipulated videos, audio recordings or images.

“The consequences of disinformation and misinformation are far-reaching,” he said.

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“They undermine democratic processes, sow discord within communities, and pose significant threats to public health and safety.

“Today, even the media is at the risk of losing its credibility because of the proliferation of fake news on the social media.

“Therefore, the media, as custodians of the public trust, must take decisive action to combat the scourge of disinformation and misinformation.”

He said social media should be checked through robust regulatory frameworks to curb the spread of false information while safeguarding freedom of expression.

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While in government, Mohammed had argued that there was a need to check the “excesses of social media” owing to the rise of fake news and disinformation.

He had said if left unregulated, social media would destroy the country.

On June 4, 2021, the Buhari-led government suspended the operations of X (formerly known as Twitter) in Nigeria.

The development came hours after a tweet by Buhari was deleted but the federal government had said the decision was as a result of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

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