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Five key insights from our election fact-checks

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The 2023 general elections were greeted with widespread misinformation and disinformation. To combat the menace, the Nigeria Fact-checkers’ Coalition (NFC), consisting of 12 fact-checking entities, actively countered the influx of misleading information during the elections.

Their efforts resulted in fact-checking 127 claims from the presidential, National Assembly, governorship, and state assembly elections held on Feb. 25 and March 18, 2023. 

Following this exercise, extensive research was conducted into the origins of these claims, their patterns, and how they spread across various platforms. The analysis offered a crucial deep dive into the landscape of mis/disinformation within Nigeria’s political discussions. In summary, here are five key insights gleaned from the examination:

  1. Mis/Disinformation’s prevalence

The NFC’s fact-checking efforts uncovered 127 claims, with 83 linked to the presidential and National Assembly elections and 44 associated with the governorship and state assembly polls. This abundance underscores the alarming prevalence of misinformation and disinformation woven into the fabric of these elections. It also highlights the efforts of both intentional and unintentional actors to influence the outcome of the polls using information disorder as a tool. While this finding is not surprising, it underscores the extent to which information disorder spreads during elections or other political activities.

Five key insights from our election fact-checks
Total number of claims fact-checked during the elections 
  1. Timing and mis/disinformation

One of the striking revelations points to a surge in mis/disinformation on the day of the elections. The analysis indicates a concentrated effort in fact-checking during this crucial time frame, suggesting a deliberate attempt to influence public opinion or manipulate the electoral process through disinformation tactics. A similar observation was made by Max Bader, a Lecturer at Leiden University, in his paper “Disinformation in Elections.” He noted that the most common forms of disinformation in elections include the dissemination of ‘fake news’ to discredit opponents or influence the voting process, falsifying or manipulating polling data, and using fake election monitoring and observation.

Five key insights from our election fact-checks
More claims fact-checked on election day
  1. Mis/disinformation on social media platforms

Social media, particularly Twitter, emerged as a hotbed for disseminating false claims. Out of the 83 allegations fact-checked during the presidential and National Assembly elections, 52 originated from Twitter. Similarly, 37 out of 46 shares were traced back to Twitter during the governorship and state assembly elections. This highlights the influential role of platforms like Twitter in shaping political narratives and discourse during Nigeria’s election cycles. A typical influence of Twitter was when fake election results were spread on the platform that the All Progressive Congress (APC) party candidate, Aishatu Dahiru, popularly called Binani, had won the Adamawa state governorship election.

Five key insights from our election fact-checks

Twitter was the platform with the most mis/disinformation 

  1. Preference for video content type

Videos took centre stage in the spread of misinformation. They constituted the most prevalent content type across both elections, comprising 46 out of 83 claims during the presidential and National Assembly elections and 23 out of 44 claims during the governorship and state assembly polls. This underscores the urgency for fact-checkers to prioritise video content verification during election campaigns. The findings presented here are consistent with a study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication titled “Seeing Is Believing: Is Video Modality More Powerful in Spreading Fake News via Online Messaging Apps?” The research indicates that users are more susceptible to believing fake news when presented in video form. This susceptibility arises from a tendency to trust visual content more than written or spoken information.

Five key insights from our election fact-checks
Videos were the most common content type for mis/disinformation during the elections
  1. Cross-platform challenges

The study exposed the intricate challenges of cross-platform misinformation, identifying 15 claims circulating on Facebook and Twitter. This finding highlights the rapid dissemination and fluidity of mis/disinformation across diverse social media platforms, necessitating robust strategies to effectively counter and track misinformation across this complex web. It highlights the reality that the same claim can appear in another forum with other users and even trigger different impacts. While it is a known fact that fake news travels faster than actual news, the diversity of social media platforms has been the transport system offering a smooth transition of claims.

Five key insights from our election fact-checks
Several claims were found to have transited to other platforms


The insights gleaned from this comprehensive research shed a glaring light on the vulnerability of electoral processes in the face of misinformation. They also underscore the critical need for concerted efforts from stakeholders, fact-checkers, and platforms to curb the spread of false narratives and uphold the integrity of democratic exercises in Nigeria.

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