Claim: A news headline states that “JUST IN: AMCON seizes Buhari’s Properties“
This headline is misleading. The Buhari in question is not the Nigerian President but Mr. Abdulfatai Buhari, a lawmaker representing Ogbomosho North in the country’s senate.
Just a few weeks after Dubawa fact checked PM News for publishing a misleading headline which suggests President Buhari was shot dead in Edo State, a news headline also suggests that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has seized President Buhari’s properties.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) confirmed that it had seized the properties of a lawmaker, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari over his refusal to refund a ₦600m loan taken from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB). Senator Abdulfatai Buhari took the loan in his company’s name, Abadat Ventures Limited.
However, Politics Nigeria and NaijaNews.Com mischievously crafted their headlines in ways that could deceive readers to think that the ‘Buhari’ in question was the Nigerian president. Politicsnigeria.com says ‘JUST IN: AMCON seizes Buhari’s Properties’ while Naijanews.com says ‘AMCON seizes Buhari’s Abuja Properties’. The trope was duplicated on social media as the headline on Nairaland’s Politics section is also AMCON Seizes Buhari’s Properties.
Screenshot of Politics Nigeria’s headline
Screenshot of Naijanews.com’s headline
Screenshot of Nairaland’s headline
News organisations, especially those online know that headlines influence news readers to click on story links. Bloggers and news organisations, therefore, sometimes act unprofessionally by baiting readers with misleading headlines.
For instance, Franktalknow.com shared a link on WhatsApp which states ‘JUST IN: AMCON seizes Buhari’s Properties’ but the headline changes to ‘JUST IN: AMCON seizes Senator Buhari’s Properties’ after readers click the story link.
Some news audiences actually fell for the bait on Nairaland and assumed the ‘Buhari’ in question was the President.
It is impressive to note that some other media organisations were more ethical in their reportage of the issue. RipplesNigeria, The Punch and Newspack all referred to the lawmaker as ‘Senator Buhari’ in their headlines to avoid ambiguities while The Cable did not use the name ‘Buhari’ at all but simply used this headline ‘N600m debt’: AMCON takes over Oyo senator’s properties in Abuja’.
Researchers have found that a good number of media audiences just read the headlines and do not bother about reading the full story. So, using misleading headlines (to generate clicks) could help spread misinformation.