Bishop Charles Agyinasare has expressed worry about how fake news is gaining roots in Ghana’s media space, warning that it could spell doom for the nation.
“Some individuals or groups, in a bid to get unnecessary attention or to get the unsuspecting public to read their publications, pick a personality at random and then just put a few words in quotes and then put the personality’s name under it to make it look like he or she said it.
“This is very dangerous, and we must watch it as a nation”, the founder of Perez Chapel International told his congregation on Sunday, 16 December 2018 at the Perez Dome, Dzorwulu, Accra.
Bishop Agyinasare has, therefore, advised Christians and Ghanaians in general, to always “crosscheck your information from multiple sources before forwarding it to your contacts who will also forward it to their contacts”, since, according to him, today’s social media age makes the transmission and circulation of fake news very easy.
Citing two personal examples to buttress his point, Bishop Agyinasare recalled that: “Two weeks ago, they concocted a story about me”, saying:
“In his book ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, Bishop Charles Agyinasare, Founder of one of Ghana’s mega churches, responded to the issue of marriage abuse, writing: ‘You are not the first woman to be beaten by your husband, and you will not be the last… rise up with the word of God and use your spiritual weapons…Keep going to church, listen to tapes, pray, notice the blessings around you, keep your vows’”.
The concocted article, Bishop Agyinasare said, then added that: “It’s time to engage the church and confront its role in promoting gender violence”.
“When they sent me the write-up, I was confused at first. I wanted to believe I wrote that but remembered I have been saying ‘any man who hits his wife is cheap and does not deserve her’. I have never insulted nor hit mama [Mrs Agyinasare] in our 33 years of marriage”.
“I, therefore, decided to re-read the book to see if I wrote that. I got some ladies in the UK and Ghana to read the book, too. They discovered nothing like that but instead found out that I stated that one of the grounds of divorce is abuse: whether physical, verbal, emotional or psychological.”
“They also found out that I had a whole chapter on domestic violence and had two female lawyers work with me on that chapter”, Bishop Agyinasare noted.
On the second incident, he said just last week, a website wrote that ‘Bishop Agyinasare says: ‘National Cathedral Not Necessary. Build KVIPs In Accra Instead’.
The website then put a disclaimer under the story, indicating that it was a satire – ‘the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues’.
“I had to do a public denunciation”, Bishop Agyinasare said.
“I wish to state categorically that I have never made the comments attributed to me by the website regarding the particular subject matter of a national cathedral.”
“I acknowledge that satire has a place in our media space and national discourse, and the above may be a piece of same. It must, however, be pointed out that the mischief that such pieces could be used for, and the opprobrium that could be spurred by it, can generate disturbing consequences sometimes.”
“I wish to take this opportunity to advise the media to be circumspect in carrying out their very important duty with the utmost professionalism they can muster”, Bishop Agyinasare’s rejoinder read.
Bishop Agyinasare, therefore, urged the public to always crosscheck anything sent to them on social media or in the traditional media by going “a step further and asking uncle Google”
“Do not forward everything you see or hear without finding the source of it because you might actually be contributing to spreading a big lie.”
“Before you spread something you have read, seen or heard, we are encouraged to use the acronym THINK” by asking the following five questions:
“Is it true? Remember this rule about gossip: ‘The more interesting it is, the more likely it is to be false’.”
“Is it helpful? Will your words help bring about a solution to a problem?”
“Is it inspiring? Will your words build up someone?”
“Is it necessary? Do we have to say anything at all?”
“Is it kind? Are your words based on a desire to help?”
“As your pastor”, he told the congregations, “I always admonish you to check what the bible says, and as a friend, I will in the same stride plead with you to crosscheck your source of information before forwarding”.