2 November 2012 8 Comments

How to check facts on Social Media: A case study of PM News & H.E Ajumobi

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Florence Ajumobi, Wife of Oyo State Governor Ajumobi, Governor Ajumobi's wife and Social media as a tool has its own advantage and disadvantage. A major challenge many has with Social media is the accuracy of information shared on its platforms. Invariably many had thrown the baby away with the bath water. This is just because they are sticklers to news authenticity.

Nobody will blame anyone for their stands on any issue. But it must be on record that nothing is totally evil or good, it is the users that give it its colouration. As users also, we must also strive to remain silent when not sure. As a rule there are many news feed I do not respond to no matter how hot it looks. The Bible even says ‘when a fool keeps quiet he is assumed to be intelligent as long as his mouth is shut’. The trouble is that many has long standing issues with some individuals and organizations and are silently waiting for the right time to strike or be happy at their ‘perceived’ enemy’s misfortune. So Social media often gives them opportunity to vent their angers and spread unconfirmed rumour.

Before we go ahead, let us settle some basic issues. One, I have no personal or business relationship with Governor Ajumobi’s family neither with PM News. Two, what we are doing here is just professional analysis of issue (news publishing in this regard). Three, I also acknowledge my opinion is not final nor the only correct perspective to any issue. Having said this, let us go ahead.

On Monday 30 October, 2012 PM News carried headline news ‘Anxiety Over Ajumobi’s wife Arrest’. Going through the story, the writer traced the foundation of his news sources to bloggers and other online news. In another development, it was later added  he had confirmed the information from London Metropolitan Police. In a couple of hours the news has spread like wild fire on the social media. Many users would not even confirm the authenticity of the stories. We are not going to take side here. Though we acknowledge in every rumour there is always an element of truth. Whether that is true or not, we can only wait to see the result of a One Billion Naira law suit against the PM News. Our focus here is in cross checking facts on Social media before you spread them. In advanced Countries, if Governor Ajumobi’s had hired Online Media monitoring Specialist, he would have had thousands of Social media users joined in the case.  So how do you cross- check news on Social media before you retweet, re-published etc.

Obey Social Media Mantra: If we do not know, there is a social media mantra/law we need to obey if we must be  successful users. It is: Think about the audience first and the brand second. It is never the other way. Sometimes we want to be the first news breaker in the industry but there is a responsibility attach to that. That informed the purpose of our earlier post. Search Engine may amplify the negative story beyond what you think.

Florence Ajumobi, Wife of Oyo State Governor Ajumobi, Governor Ajumobi's wife and Use right tools: Do not be a lazy Social media user. During the cause of accidents, Hurricane, flood etc, many photos will be flying around on social media, use right tools to check photo credibility. There are many photo analysis software that are free. It can tell you when the pictures were taken and if there  had been a manipulation (through Photoshop). Do this and confirm before you share the photo. In the recent US ‘Sandy’ effect, Atlantic news  platform helped US citizen to know which photo was true or fake. We need people and organizations like that here.

Take a long view: first, who is the source of the information? If a media house, do background checks on its credibility status? If individuals/writers, do the same on Google to find out their antecedents. If in doubt, take personal precaution and protect your own reputation.

Ask question from quoted sources: We are too much in a hurry hence we are prone to avoidable mistakes. Learn to ask question before you share anything.

Wait if you must: from the foregoing, it is obvious; we may need to wait a little before we share some of the so-called hot news on Social Media. Have you taken necessary precaution? Do you have anything to contribute? Use the comment section.

#Photo 2 Source: Atlantic

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