On the 20th of October 2020, the #EndSARS protests, which were launched to call for an end to police brutality in Nigeria, went awry after soldiers allegedly opened fire on peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate.
Read more about #EndSARS
The dramatic turn of events following that day has since sent a lot of Nigerians into a state of shock, confusion, and anger. With thousands of clips, images, and posts of these events flying around the online space, we must look at the role social media has played so far in the #EndSARS campaign.
DJ Switch, CCTV Cameras, And Burning Buildings
On the day of the alleged massacre, the governor of Lagos State, Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu had announced a 24-hour curfew which would start from 4 pm on that day. As at the time, reports had started emerged that soldiers had been deployed to disband the peaceful protesters who were gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate.
If you're at the toll gate.
If this is recent.
This is not a good sign.
Go home! https://t.co/cGOJ4pALm0
— Aproko Doctor (@aproko_doctor) October 20, 2020
The atmosphere became unnerving after a disturbing picture surfaced online of some men, who appeared to be government officials, removing CCTV cameras from alleged premises of the Lekki Toll Gate. This led many Nigerians to wonder why CCTV cameras were been displaced in a strategic location where many protesters had gathered.
Does the government have a sinister plan to end the protests? Is genocide against peaceful protesters brewing? Many concerned Nigerians were forced to raise these alarming questions, as there were indications that all was not well.
It didn’t take long for these fears to be confirmed after a live video from fast-rising Disk Jockey, DJ Switch, surfaced on Instagram. DJ Switch, who was one of the protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, made a live recording of what seemed like Nigerian soldiers opening fire on peaceful protesters. This immediately led to thousands of tweets raising awareness about the shocking event. Soon enough, videos of alleged fallen protesters killed by soldiers emerged online.
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Several clips were shared online, showing how the protesters had been disbanded by soldiers. At this time, the failure of many mainstream news outlets to report on the shocking event caused even more outrage.
The days that have followed the Lekki Toll Gate incidence have been marked by more troubling events. From the burning of media houses, private property, and banks by suspected hoodlums to Sanwo-Olu’s shocking claim that no fatalities were recorded at Lekki Toll Gate and to some individuals claiming to be alive after they were reported as one of the fallen protesters, Nigerians are now faced with many unsolved mysteries.
Verify voice notes, videos and other WhatsApp content before you pass them on. Delete once you verify them to be fake. Break the chain of fake news. Don’t help fuel ethnic hate.
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) October 22, 2020
Stop fake news.
Stop instigating violence. pic.twitter.com/7c975TjEaT
— Chief Ojukwu (@ChiefOjukwu) October 22, 2020
— DripMistress (@Herjokehardey) October 22, 2020
Whether you believe it or not, there’s a lot of misinformation flying around the social media space. Several clips purported to be recordings of the scenes of the alleged massacre have been debunked by many as old clips. This begs an important question. Is social media a reliable source of information? This could elicit a positive and negative response depending on how you look at it.
Social Media: A Better Alternative To The Mainstream Media Or Is It?
Social media is indeed a blessing in a time when the mainstream media can no longer be trusted but it is not without its flaws. The social media space abounds with unscrupulous characters that derive joy in preying on the emotions of unsuspecting users by spreading misinformation.
While social media has its own shortcomings when it comes to fake news, it, however, provides us with the freedom to filter and fact-check the information we take in. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity by fact-checking information we consume on social media and debunking fake news when we have the facts. This is the best we can do if we really care about the cause of the #EndSARS movement and the progress of Nigeria as a nation.
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