FG tasks Google on sanity of cyberspace

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By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris has appealed to Google for a safe cyberspace to enhance peace and unity in the country.

The Minister who made the call when a delegation from Google West Africa led by its Director, Mr Olumide Balogun paid him a visit on Thursday in Abuja.

“It is very important to find a critical balance between the negative and positive aspects of cyberspace. I think the role is on your side because you are the one that has the switch button to switch on and off.

“It is not in the interest of the government to gag the press or deny people freedom of expression. I can tell you that the president is not interested in stifling any press flow of information, but once information becomes dangerous, it can now become a problem for us, tear us apart and create confusion for us as a country.

“We know that information dissemination is critical to the survival of any country. I think it is important for us to have free press, a platform where people can express themselves freely.

“I think that once people communicate or put out information, it reduces tension and the menace of fake news. That freedom comes with responsibility,” the Minister said.

He said Google has an enormous responsibility to ensure that the freedom people have in cyberspace does not also translate to an avenue for anarchy for Nigerians.

“We want to stay united and in peace; and sometimes if you feel that the knife in the kitchen would be more negative and dangerous, you sometimes need to take it out and use what is available.

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“We don’t want to get to that level.  It is a twin problem, but how you as Google navigate that is important for us,” Idris said.

Speaking earlier, Balogun said that Google in the last three years has trained over 3,500 journalists to use different tools for news verification, including digital tools to manage misinformation.

“We have the Google News integration team that helps news organisations across the world, including Nigeria through what is called “Google Innovation Challenge” to innovate and introduce new innovations to news organizations.

“One of the innovations that we funded, called ‘full fact’ is an AI technology that helps in fact-checking”.

The Google team pledged to support the Ministry by training staff on online skills. (NAN)

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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