[The Presidential Blog] This is how Lai Mohammed really feels about social media

Last week, we had a moment about Alhaji Lai Mohammed being one of the 15 remaining people (we could just say “few people” but where’s the fun in that?) in the universe who haven’t got social media accounts. We found it confusing because he’s after all the Minister of Information and what 21st century Minister of Information does not inform via social media. So confusing that we did a whole piece on it.

What we did not add last week is the fact that he’s also the Minister of Culture (i.e his real portfolio is Minister of Information and Culture and someday we’ll explore the weird rationale behind combining those two portfolios) which makes his absence on social media even more confusing since social media is essentially where culture is evolving, being shared and being experienced today. In fact, social media is a culture on its own.

Today, we have just learnt that there’s more to his absence on social media than mere disinterest or oversight. Via a speech delivered on his behalf at a book launch earlier this week in Abuja, the minister gave us insight into his thought process inadvertently:

“Efforts by journalists to write books to re-position the profession should be encouraged in order to counter the current challenges posed by the social media in this era of information processing and dissemination. Today we have all sources of information that are hardly reliable because of the way the information is processed and disseminated. I believe that traditional media, in spite of this challenge, should strive to ensure that any information is verified, reliable, cross-checked and presented to avoid instances of false news processed as correct information.”

It’s unbelievably simple. The Minister feels an obvious apathy towards social media. If you spend any given day on Twitter, you’d probably feel the same way considering the volume of meaningless and directionless banter that can drag on there.

Yet, the Minister is going about it all wrong. To think that the way to counter the dangers of social media is by fighting it from traditional media reveals only one thing: that the minister does not know how much the world has moved on. It’s like someone asking you read the Instagram Terms and Conditions or WhatsApp Privacy Policy in a thing called “manual”. That does not even make sense.

So the Minister feels that information is not being properly disseminated and processed via social media – where everybody is right now – and he thinks that the way to fix that is to avoid it all together and remedy it by providing solutions in traditional media.



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