By Nehru Odeh
Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has come hard on those who impersonate him to peddle false rumours or ascribe things he did not say to him on the social media.
Soyinka, who described those acts of impersonation and falsehood on social media as identity theft, also said he does not know any other country that abuses social media like Nigeria.
Soyinka made this statement on Tuesday 21 March 2023 at the World Poetry Day, which was organised by ProvidusBank in Lagos. The theme of this year’s event, tagged “World Poetry Day With Wole Soyinka” was “Restating Humanity With The Woman.”
The distinguished writer expressed his disappointment at the abuse of social media, while reacting to the insidious manner in which people falsely ascribe statements to him on social media alongside his photographs. He cited a case that has to do with the recently concluded general elections.
“And we are living in a society which is degenerating to a level where falsehood has become the stable commodity, especially on that antithesis of imagination and creativity called internet and social media.
” I want to assure you. I want to tell something, that ever since this electoral thing began, I have not made one public statement, not on behalf of any candidate, not on the proceedings, not on the venue, not on the candidates, not on INEC, not on former presidents, not on whatever in connection.
“And yet the amount of garbage which has been attributed to me, with my photograph pasted on it is just amazing. It is incredible that such identity theft can continue unchecked for so long.
“It is incredible that people sit somewhere, fabricate absolutely out of nothing, put your name to a statement, attached your photograph to it and claim it to be your product.”
Soyinka also said even though he admired technology, communication has catapulted the world into realms of humanity that we really should safeguard, while urging everyone not to believe everything they read on social media. Soyinka also said those who lie debase language, adding that they debase not just their humanity but our humanity.
“The technicians, the technologists have really done us a favour to the advance of humanity with its technology. But I do not know any nation in the world that abuses that technology as Nigeria.
“So please don’t spend so much time on it. Use it. I don’t .want to discourage you but learn to discriminate. Don’t believe everything that you read on that medium,” Soyinka maintained.
Soyinka also wished that someday in the future, there will be a mechanism to detect and identify those who perpetuate such infamy on social media so that they can be dealt with.