Media houses must strive to keep off the fake

Friday, September 17th, 2021 00:29 |

The video clip crept up on social media like many others before it. The scene on the clip was the usual Senate that many who watch the proceedings of that House, would already be familiar with.

The speaker was on his high chair supposedly speaking to a man, a member of the Senate, out of the set. Those with itchy fingers were not wasting time.

It was being forwarded from one social wall to another. The media houses soon got on the game and were rushing to reorganize their story lineups to accommodate the latest item.

Only that, as it turned out, that clip, like many others in circulation, was fake, the work of creative dark minds up to some mischief. Many have been here before.

Ne’er do wells conjure and create a scene a pure work of fiction. They then let it loose on the gullible public who swallow it line hook and sinker. It is then left to the hapless victims to try to clear their names.

Victims of this fraud know only too well how hard it is to clear one’s name. Few in the public already exposed to the fake clip care for the truth.

“It is on video” would be the refrain and the victim is condemned. Fortunately for the victims in this case of the Senate video clip fraud, the individuals framed were high fliers with platforms and microphones ,from which to speak and whips of their own to crack.

Others lack this advantage. Whether it is ignorance or impunity is hard to tell. The President accented to the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act in 2018; the Act listing many of the criminal acts associated with doctoring images and circulating them online.

It is not just the creation and the manipulation of the video that is a violation of the Act, but even forwarding these fake contents offends society. But the ne’er do wells do not seem to care for there is hardly a day that passes without some manipulation emerging from somewhere.

What has been publicised of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act is the punishment meted out to those who receive in error money not intended for them and then refuse to reverse the transaction. But even this is not deterring individuals from looking for every loophole to keep what is not theirs.

What seems needed is to educate individuals on the provisions of the Act and then hope that the penalties will serve as deterrence. But it is in this again where our challenges lie.

Editors and journalists are supposed to know better. They are however, part of the problem. Journalists were not left out among those who were forwarding this offending clip on various social media walls.

They were committing crimes. Newsrooms soon took to the fad and gave the clip authenticity by airing it. It is prob- ably a lost cause if journalists do not have the wherewithal to discern and separate the fake from the factual. Media houses should do better than this.

It is to them that the task of verifying facts prior to publication is bestowed. If all their gates fail to keep out the fake, then there is little chance here. Quite a few media houses have always behaved badly.

They often quote supposed online sources whose identity they can not verify. Too often you will find a news presenter citing sources from twitter, sources with undecipherable names and whose identity or location cannot be verified.

Just because one has a keyboard does not make them credible. It should be a rule that if a media house is to air a clip, or cite an online source, then such online sources should be verifiable, and such clips should come from sources that they can vouch for. This country must find a way to stop itching fingers.

Journalists would help in educating society, but it seems they need the education more than the average individual out there. —The writer is dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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