In a few days, the curtain will draw on 2022. As the world begins the countdown and looks forward to what 2023 will bring, a look back through 2022 brings memories and lessons to learn for many.
At DUBAWA, we witnessed a year-long information disorder that started with claims around the COVID-19 vaccine that were mostly sandwiched by superstitious beliefs passed from generation. But soon after, the discourse of the 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria infiltrated the Nigerian social sphere, unearthing several claims.
Some of these claims are sophisticated and technologically manipulated. Others even appeared ridiculously, even though they were shockingly taken seriously and widely shared by users online. Here are some laughter-triggering claims we could not ignore in 2022.
- Thread on the head
We begin with the superstitious claim that has stood the test of time but lacks scientific backing. Many Africans believe placing a strand of wool on the head is a fast and effective remedy for hiccups, a myth that was even supported by 43% of respondents in a Twitter poll we carried out.
Screenshot of the Twitter poll result.
However, our fact-check says otherwise. Health experts empathically denounced the claim and explained that there is no relationship between placing a thread on the head and stopping hiccups. Doctors say having an orgasm, and rectal massage are potential treatments for intractable hiccups. In severe cases, medications like baclofen (Gablofen), chlorpromazine (Thorazine) and metoclopramide (Reglan) are prescribed. Read more here.
- Peter Obi’s endorsement by Hollywood stars
The 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria is months away. As it beckons, each candidate and their supporters are out to convince the electorates in the best way they find possible. Among such discourse are diverse claims politically motivated to decimate or promote the public appeal of these candidates.
An interesting video featured prominent Hollywood superstars displaying a placard in support of Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate. Though a timely boost to Obi’s public appeal, it was an altered video forged with deep fake software.
The reactions from Nigerians were polarised. While Peter Obi’s supporters were excited, there was doubt and disbelief from various quarters. DUBAWA’s fact-check was the arbiter, and you can read it in full.
- Atiku’s generosity
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, also had his share of misinformation. Known for his philanthropic nature, only a few would doubt reports about him giving out large amounts of money for a cause.
But eyebrows were raised when news spread that he gave out $10 million to the founder of the Winner’s Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo – currently the world’s third wealthiest preacher worth more than $149 million.
Pictures were even added to prove the authenticity of the meeting and transaction.
This claim makes one wonder why the preacher would be given such money from the former Vice President of Nigeria, especially now that the election is near.
We ran a fact-check and discovered they met in 2018 when the preacher prayed for him. However, there is no valid evidence to show that such a transaction was made. Did Atiku truly make the claim as proposed? Find out.
- Spying spouse
Married couples would fancy any tech innovation that makes monitoring their partner’s movement easier. It will help curb infidelity, and that is understandable.
But a tech ring seems ridiculous to start with. Yet, the news of its existence spread like a wildfire earlier this year when a social media post made a claim that Apple Inc – creators of the iPhone – are making a smart ring that provides information on couples spying on each other.
When we began investigating the claim, we found the picture shared was actually a proposed design in 2007 that allows users to regulate volume and playbacks on Apple media devices. The ridiculous claim, described as “a joke” by AppleInsider, can be found here.
- One child, two DNAs
One scandal that made waves in Nigeria this year was paternity fraud, as some women were accused of infidelity regarding the identity of their children’s fathers. DNA tests became a trend for Nigerian fathers.
However, only a few knew about the existence of a medical condition called Chimerism, a rare condition where a person’s body can contain two different sets of DNA. We spoke with medical experts to verify the claim and found out there are four major types of Chimerism. Read about them and their symptoms in this full report.
- A new baby with full grown-up teeth
How would you feel if you went to a hospital to greet a friend for safe delivery, only to see the newborn baby having full-grown teeth?
Findings revealed that babies could actually have natal teeth, a rare situation of 1 in 2,000 cases, according to a review. Different medical conditions, like Sotos syndrome and Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, among others, scans can disclose.
But neither research nor discussions with experts gave validity to the existence of a picture showing a little child with a full dentition like an adult.
We found that the picture was manipulated with an app by a photographer. The full report is available on DUBAWA.
- Defaming the Queen’s legacy
2022 will forever be etched in history as the year the world mourned the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for 70 years. Her historical connection with Africa’s development made Nigerians and other commonwealth nations interested in her news.
Amidst the discourse about her legacy, a viral video showed a white woman acclaimed to be the Queen in her prime throwing grains at some desolate African children. The narrative was tied to the horrors of colonialism, and it gained online traction for a time.
But DUBAWA’s findings revealed that the acclaimed white lady was neither the Queen nor children from Africa. The details are both ridiculous and historically interesting. Find out more.
- Buhari’s threat to Russia
The report would have been incomplete without highlights from the Russia/Ukraine conflict. We round up our ridiculous claims with a viral screenshot showing the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, “threatening to intervene” if Russia fails to calm down in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.
The statement, widely shared as a screenshot of a broadcast headline, triggered diverse views. Some thanked Buhari for the intervention in Ukraine’s war efforts, while others shrugged it as a joke.
Buhari’s threat to Russia seems rather far-fetched and ridiculous since Nigeria has pressing issues that range from poverty and unemployment to focus on. As supposed, DUBAWA found the image was forged with a free online tool. This is not the first time such image-generation tools have been used to mislead the public, but here is how to identify fake screenshots.