MONROVIA: Days after some unscrupulous individuals criminally inserted a fake news story into the logo of The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT newspaper, and replaced the paper’ May 30, 2022, lead story with a strange headline which was illegitimately and unlawfully published on social media, thus triggering vehement condemnation from the paper’s Publisher and Management Team that called for thorough investigation of the criminal action, it seems similar act has been carried at by some unidentified individuals, this time, aimed at undermining Liberia’s security, peace, and stability.
The latest action, via publication of a fake news on social media video which has been strongly condemned by Liberia’s International partners and the Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), has also generated strong condemnations from the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), among others.
In a statement issued in Monrovia, LCC called on the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to not only condemn the act but also investigate and prosecute all those behind the recent fake video circulating on social media that seeks to undermine Liberia’s peace and stability.
The latest video, released via social media gives what has been described by some commentators as a fake account of the governance system in Liberia ahead of the crucial 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
LCC President, Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, has condemned the video and termed it as alarming.
He urged the Liberian Government to bring to justice those who sponsored and carried out such ugly act against the country.
The LCC President further called on leaders of both the ruling and opposition political parties to prevail on their supporters to desist from acts that could plunge the Liberian nation into chaos.
Reverend Reeves said:” The act carried out by those behind the erroneous video is evil, and a demonstration that they do not mean well for the country.”
Addressing a news conference on Monday, September 19, 2022, the LCC President urged all Liberians to cherish the peace and stability of the country, which he said, supersedes all other vested interests.
At the same time, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), has vehemently condemned the fake news video about Liberia on social media.
PUL, President Charles B. Coffey Jr. has termed the video on social media, relating to state of affairs of Liberia’s security as “fake, horrible, intentionally and verifiably false.”
Mr. Coffey said such fake news is designed to manipulate people’s perceptions of real facts of peace and stability in Liberia.
He said the content of the video is known by its promoter to be false based on facts that are demonstrably incorrect, or situation that verifiably did not happen.
According to Mr. Coffey, the content is a fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but…lacks the news media’s editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information.
It overlaps with misinformation (false or misleading information) and disinformation (false information purposely spread to mislead people).
Meanwhile, the PUL president urged media institutions and individual journalists to watch out for fake news stories by unscrupulous individuals who want to use the media to cause havoc and panic among Liberians.
Mr. Coffey further called on the media to counter the fake news and educate the public. He said the peace and stability being experienced in Liberia must be maintained and cautioned against all acts that have the propensity to undermine the peace, security and stability of the country.
At the same time, the PUL President admonished the media to be conflict sensitive and always exercise high degree of professionalism in the performance of their duties at all times.
He commended the media for handling the fake video with caution in line with professional ethics and in line with international best practices.
He wants the media to always double check facts or information before publication. He lauded the Liberian government, the international community, religious community, various civil society and pro-democracy groups among others for timely countering the misinformation.