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NEGATIVE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA AN IMPEDIMENT TO INFORMATION DISSEMINATION

The social media despite being a technological feat in the communication world remains a worrisome challenge because of its susceptibility for the dissemination of falsehood and fake news. Christians have therefore been urged to be very careful of the negative impact of this modern source of communication technology.

This observation was made by Rev. Fr. Chris Anyanwu, the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); in his homily at the celebration of the Mass to mark this year’s World Communications Day, at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja, last Sunday.

Premising his homily on the message of the Holy Father Pope Francis, titled Communicating Hope and Trust, Fr. Anyanwu noted that the Holy Father has urged all “to engage in constructive forms of communication that rejects prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter”.

The CSN Director continued: “The Pope wants us to engage in a kind of communication that will help people to have positive view of the world around them. He wants us to engage in a positive communication that inspires hope, builds trust and confidence.”He added that Pope Francis encourages us to break out form the vicious circle of spreading false information and messages that bring anxiety and fear in the minds and hearts of people.

Speaking further on what is bad news and how communicators can avoid it and focus on good news, Fr. Anyanwu expressed concern about the social media as being a dumping ground for fake news. His words: “… The ease with which fake news is generated and spread through the social media is particularly scary when you take into account the fact that nowadays, a growing number of people get their news predominantly from that source.”

He continued: “Today in social media, there is anonymity, and with the anonymity of the internet people do a lot of harm by spreading falsehood, not just half truth but falsehood. And what makes it even more dangerous is that young people now depend on this form of information that on the classrooms and the churches.”

Regretting that accuracy is not of importance in the social media world, Fr. Anyanwu described the situation as very unfortunate as it gives people “a false sense of sociality, the loss of social etiquette ; the loss of reading and writing culture; limiting of productivity; erosion of family values; loss of privacy and increase in cyber/social media crimes.etc”

The homilist spoke extensively on the advantages of good news over bad news and craze of some journalists for the latter; the consequences of bad news and why good news is the best option. He described good news as messages that: “seek truth; concentrate on solutions; stir positive and responsible approach; inspire; build and uplift the spirit”.

He added: “A story line that promotes good news is a story that is based on truth, a story that is balanced, a story that is objective. A Journalist who promotes the good news is one who understands that he or she has a social responsibility to promote peace and harmony in the society.”

 


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