As part of an effort to combat cybercrime in Nigeria, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has called the attention of the general public on the recent COVID-19-related fake news in circulation.
The fake news tagged “Argentina Is Doing It”, being circulated over social media, particularly on WhatsApp, is aimed at causing panic and inducing terror in individuals. The message warns the recipient not to open a video file called ”Argentina Is Doing It” as it will hack their phone in 10 seconds. Furthermore, in order to lend credibility to the message, the message falsely claims that the Cable News Network (CNN) also reported it.
This message has been identified as fake as it exhibits some of the following characteristics of fake/hoax messages:
The message content includes instructions to forward the message;
The sender claims some kind of affiliation with a credible source or organization;
The message aims to induce panic or shock the recipient, often making impossible claims or serious consequences about the effect of the virus or malicious software; and
The messages contains alarming languages tending to emphasize the urgent nature of the threat.
The general public is therefore urged to disregard this as there is no CNN article regarding this hoax. Furthermore, the message is a variant of a similar message in circulation since 2017. NITDA calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the Federal Government in its efforts at containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country by not spreading fake news. We are also encouraged to strictly adhere to recommendations given by health experts, and follow updates from verified sources of the relevant agencies handling this outbreak.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is a Federal Government Agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. NITDA was established in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy as well as coordinate general IT development and regulation in the country. Specifically, Section 6(a, b, c & m) of the Act mandates NITDA to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria; provide guidelines to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of appropriate infrastructure for information technology and systems application and development in Nigeria for public and private sectors, urban-rural development, the economy and the government; and accelerate internet and intranet penetration in Nigeria and promote sound internet Governance by giving effect to the Second Schedule of the Act.