Donald Trump

  • Twitter did not ban Buhari as claimed in Trump’s viral statement

    Claim: The former President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a congratulatory message to Nigeria over the recent Twitter ban, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.

    Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.

    Full Story

    On Friday, June 4, 2021, the Nigerian government suspended the operations indefinitely in the country the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

    The suspension came days after Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari where he had condemned the attacks on police stations, prisons and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the South-East, warning that those supporting insurrection and violence in the country would be “treated in the language they understand.”

    The tweet reads: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

    This suspension has brought about a lot of reaction from Nigerians and also the international community.

    On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, in a statement, congratulated Nigeria for banning the operations of Twitter in the country. Trump also encouraged more countries to do the same.

    Trump, in his statement, claimed Twitter banned President Muhammadu Buhari.

    He wrote: “Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President. More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech – all voices should be heard.

    “In the meantime, competitors will emerge and take hold. Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil?

    “Perhaps, I should have done it while I was President. But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was.”

    It can be recalled that in January 2021, Twitter and Facebook suspended the accounts of Donald Trump, following the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill. The platforms claim he mobilised his followers to invade Capitol Hill over the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election after he lost.

    A screenshot of Donald Trump’s statement 

    Verification 

    Dubawa started by checking the official Twitter handle of President Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) to see if his account has been banned or deactivated but found nothing of such.

    Also, he is still recognised as Nigeria’s President as stated on his bio in the verified handle. As of Wednesday, June 9, the President’s account is active with 4.1 million followers.

    Further checks showed that his last tweet was on June 1 and all is still intact except for his controversial post which was removed.

    Twitter’s policy on ban

    Twitter has some rules and policies to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely. 

    A Twitter user can be banned or permanently suspended if found guilty of the risk of further incitement of violence.

    For instance, the former president, Donald Trump, was banned on Twitter, following his tweet which led to the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

    Twitter, in a press release, explaining why Trump was banned, said: “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

    According to Twitter, when a user is removed from the platform, such user is permanently removed no matter the position such user holds in the public.

    Twitter’s chief financial officer, Ned Segal, in an interview on CNBC after Trump was banned, reiterated that Twitter has policies in place to “make sure that people are not inciting violence” and, if someone’s content does that, they will be removed from the platform.

    “When you are removed from the platform, you are removed from the platform, whether you are a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official, he said.

    In President Buhari’s case, he violated Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy which led to the removal of the post and suspension of his account for 12 hours. The consequence of violating this rule is linked to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the severity of the violation and an individual’s previous record of rule violations. 

    In twitter’s judgement, Buhari has not done what could warrant a ban, hence, his account was not removed from the platform.

    A screenshot of President Buhari’s Twitter account

    Conclusion

    The claim by the former president of the United States is false. Twitter didn’t ban President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter only removed a post made by the President.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with The Nigerian Tribune to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Trump to return to social media with own platform

    The former President of the United States (US), Donald Trump, is planning to return to social media with his own network.

    Jason Miller, adviser and spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign made this known in his appearance on Fox News MediaBuzz on Sunday.

    The former president was banned by Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram following the belief that his posts incited the US Capitol riots on January 6 2021.

    The former president was permanently banned by Twitter in January after warnings about his activities noting his activities on the platform contradicted their public interest framework.  

    Facebook also banned Trump indefinitely and subsequently referred its decision to indefinitely suspend the former president’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to an independent Facebook-funded body composed of international experts.

    Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said the risks of Trump using the service were too great. 

    Months later, Jason Miller said; “I do think we are going to see president Trump returning to social media with his own platform and this is something I think is going to be the hottest ticket in social media. It is going to completely redefine the game”.

  • U.S. election: How true is claim that Biden is not yet president-elect?

    Claim: A viral WhatsApp message claims nobody is President-elect in the United State until the safe harbour period (between November 3 and December 8) is over.

    Mostly True. While it is true there is a safe harbour deadline and other timelines before the swearing-in of the president, the use of the term President-elect is not forbidden and has been used for years to refer to a presidential candidate who has won the majority vote. 

    Full Text

    The United State of America’s presidential election which took place last Tuesday, November 3, 2020, has become the centre of discussion as the world continues to pay close attention to events as they unfold.

    The election between Donald Trump of the Republican Party and Joe Biden of the Democratic Party was a close battle but so far Joe Biden beat incumbent President, Donald Trump, by scoring 273 electoral college votes against Trump’s 214 votes.

    However, a viral WhatsApp message claims no one is president-elect until “the harbour period” is over. This “harbour period” has been described as the period between November 3 and and December 8 within which elections are held, result counted, votes certified by states, electoral bodies, electoral colleges, and all court cases are resolved.

    The message went further to say that after this period, on December 14, the President, the Vice President, and electors from all electoral colleges will be elected. Afterward, on December 23, states must send all verified votes and electoral college votes to the president of the Senate who is the current Vice President.

    Subsequently, on January 3, a new senate and house of representatives are sworn in, after which the president of the new senate takes the votes to the new senate to recount and presents the results to the house on January 6. According to the message, it is on this day that the president is known, after official  swearing in is done on January 20. Anything short of this, the message noted is just entertainment.

    Screenshot of viral WhatsApp message.

    Verification

    The United States (U.S) presidential election is a two-step process. The general voters cast their ballots to elect the electors who in turn meet to formally elect the President. In the U.S whose democracy is over 200 years old, there is no central or federal electoral commission that conducts the presidential election.

    All elections (federal, state, and local) are conducted by each of the 50 states and the capital territory. And this  includes choosing the electors in the Electoral College that elects the president. While Americans took to the polls on November 3, 2020 and voted, they have not really selected the next president of the United States. Technically, the president and vice-president are selected by a group of electors, collectively known as the Electoral College. 

    In a nutshell, when voters go to the polls, they are voting for the Electoral College, which then elects the president and vice-president. This means winning the democratic popular vote in the U.S does not determine who is president but winning the Electoral College vote. Although the winner is mostly known once the election is over, members of the Electoral College, however, statutorily meet on December 14 to ratify the election of the winner.

    The Electoral College

    The Electoral College is made up of temporarily selected state representatives known as electors. In total, there are 538 members of the Electoral College, representing the 50 states and the nation’s capital, Washington, District of Columbia (D.C.). The winner of the elections must win at least 270 votes.

    The constitution of the United States mandates that the number of the electors equals the number of congressional delegations, that is, the total number of senators and house of representatives. A 1961 constitutional amendment further increased the number of electors to include representation from D.C which has no member of congress. 

    The total number of electors is broken down into: 100 Senators, 435 House of Representatives and 3 electors representing Washington D.C.

    While each state has exactly two senators, the number of House of Representatives depends on the number of congressional districts which can vary. For example, while states like New York and Florida both have 27 representatives, others like Alaska and Delaware each have one. California has the highest number of representatives with 53 members.

    This year, the Electoral College will meet on December 14, following the general elections, to cast their ballots for the president and vice-president in the individual states and D.C. Usually, the votes of the electoral college is presumed to be based on the outcome of the general elections and the general rules followed by each state. Individual states determine how members of the Electoral College vote.

    It is worthy of note that the majority of states follow a winner-takes-all approach, that is, whoever gets the majority votes in the general elections in each state automatically wins all Electoral College votes in that state. Forty-eight states follow this rule while Maine and Nebraska, follow an Electoral College voting system that splits the Electoral College votes between congressional district voter outcome and the state-wide outcome

    What does the U.S Constitution say?

    According to article II section 1 of the U.S constitution, each state is responsible for appointing electors who shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. They shall subsequently make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each. These votes are signed and certified, and transmitted sealed to the seat of the government of the United State, directed to the President of the Senate. 

    The President of the Senate shall then in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed. But if there is more than one who has such a majority and an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President.

    But if eventually, no person has a majority, then from the five highest on the list, the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.

    Note that the Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes. This day shall be the same throughout the United States.

    Screenshot of parts of the U.S constitution.

    Where are we now?

    Currently, Biden, a former vice president under Barack Obama, passed the 270 electoral vote threshold needed for victory on Saturday November 7, 2020, winning the states of Pennsylvania and Nevada. While Biden has started making plans for office, President Donald Trump is yet to concede defeat on grounds of voting fraud noting he will continue to challenge results in several states. Biden reacting to Trump’s refusal to concede defeat said it is embarrassing. 

    Despite this win, there are a few things that must happen before a new term begins. This period is described as the transition phase. This phase is the period between the election result and the start of the new presidential term on 20 January. Within this period, the incoming president is to assemble a group called a transition team which prepares to assume power immediately after inauguration. So far Biden has set up his team already. The new term of office begins January 20, 2021, when a ceremony called the inauguration takes place in the capital, Washington DC.

    A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation/(BBC) highlighted and explained terms that will be frequently used during this period. First is the term President-elect. A candidate who wins the election but is yet to be sworn in as the new president on January 20, is referred to as President-elect.

    Also, the term Cabinet will be used for the top team at the highest level of government which will be announced by Joe Biden. This team includes heads of all the key departments and agencies. This will, however, require approval from the Senate. The people picked by Mr Biden are interviewed by Senate committees in a hearing known as the confirmation hearing which is followed by a vote to approve or reject. 

    Another keyword is “Celtic.” As president-elect, Biden gets increased protection from the Secret Service and his codename is Celtic. These names are chosen by the candidate. For Trump it was Mogul and Kamala Harris has reportedly picked Pioneer.

    What is the Safe harbor deadline?

    The safe harbor period which was referred to in the viral WhatsApp message has been made reference to in different documents regarding the election as the safe harbor deadline. This deadline is December 8,2020.

    An explainer article by Bloomberg noted this as a period where states have the opportunity to resolve any dispute around votes cast and certify these votes. 

    The 2020 presidential election timeline by the electoral college also discussed this, noting it is a deadline set for states to resolve anything around vote contestation after which the governor of that state is to send a certificate describing how the determination was made to the Archivist as soon as practicable.

    Screenshot of the electoral college 2020 presidential election timeline.

    Who is a president-elect?

    The term president-elect is used to refer to a candidate who has met the requirements of winning an election.

    For decades, this term has been used by the media to describe the presidential candidate with the most electoral votes. 

    A report by Aljazeera described Joe Biden as president-elect having passed the 270 vote electoral college threshold needed to claim victory in the 2020 presidential election.

    In a similar report Joe Biden was referred to as president-elect. 

    However, this unofficial term is generating controversy in this year’s election. NBC12 in it’s report noted it had received complaints about calling Joe Biden President-elect.

    The Phrase, president-elect appears in the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933. It is used there to allow the vice president-elect to become president if a President-elect dies before taking the oath of office.

    According to the Executive Director of UVA Center for Politics, Larry Sabato, the term president-elect is not new.

    “The difference is they liked the result in 2016 and they don’t like the result in 2020. In the old days, you didn’t have a president-elect until the Electoral College met; that’s when the title becomes official”

    Excerpt of Sabato’s comment.

    The Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Rich Anderson, said the use of the term is no big deal to him but to be technically precise, nobody has the title of ‘president-elect’.

    “Until an Electoral College winner has been determined there are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of unknowns, which is what we’re seeing play out now”.

    Excerpt of Anderson’s comment.

    The U.S Constitution only speaks on the availability of the person who has won the presidential election to take the oath of office. There is no indication when that person actually becomes president-elect.

    The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognising the president-elect and providing the funds and access to federal agencies that his team needs.

    Conclusion

    It is true there is a safe harbour deadline of December 8 in the U.S. presidential election as noted by the electoral college election timeline and other reports.

    The term president-elect is, however, an unofficial term used to describe a candidate who has won the majority of electoral votes. Although it is not found in the U.S Constitution, it is in the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933.

  • Research: Media Organisations on the Frontline of Combating Information Disorder in Nigeria

    By Folarin Jamiu

    In August, Dubawa published the first part of a two-series research paper that essentially documents the information disorder ecosystem in Nigeria and the various media responses to the problem in the form of factchecking. The concluding part, published last week, provides further insight into the fact-checking ecosystem by interrogating the history, issues and activities surrounding media organisations on the frontline of combating information disorder in Nigeria. 

    A Historical Analysis of the Establishment of Factchecking Organizations in Nigeria

    Fact-checking as part of media work was institutionalised in Africa about 8 years ago with the establishment of Africa Check. It is a non-profit organisation set up in 2012 in South Africa to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa. It described itself as Africa’s first independent and non-profit fact-checking organisation set up to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa, as well as  work to raise the quality of information available to society across the continent. The Nigerian Editor of Africa Check, David Ajikobi, said the establishment was influenced by security and sundry issues generated from the spread of dis and misinformation around the purpose and benefits of the Polio vaccination leading to boycott of the exercise and the murder of health workers in the Northern part of the country.

    Dubawa which is a project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) based in Nigeria was “launched in 2018 after a baseline study owing to a knowledge of the media ecosystem in Nigeria”, says Ebele Oputa, a consultant to PTCIJ. The findings of the baseline study, according to Ms Oputa, indicated that “there was declining trust in media organisations in Nigeria”, just as the “quality of national discourse was also being watered down.” This partly influenced the establishment of the Dubawa fact-checking project in addition to building the capacity of journalists across Nigeria in verification. The establishment of Dubawa as a fact-checking organisation was also influenced by the realisation that quality information is important to development as access to verified information will influence making informed and accurate decisions. 

    AFP Fact Check (Nigeria) is owned by an international France’s News Agency.  AFP launched its digital verification service in France in 2017 and has grown to become one of the leading global fact-checking organisations, with dedicated journalists in countries from the United States to Myanmar. Segun Olakoyenikan who is a fact-checking journalist for AFP said the fact-checking organisation for Nigeria bureau was established in 2018, after the news agency entered into a partnership with Facebook to deepen the social network’s third-party fact-checking programme in Africa. It is part of the news agency’s digital verification service launched in 2017 to verify fake news and disinformation circulating in the world. The project was influenced by the need to reduce the spread of misinformation worldwide, create a culture of accuracy in the society, and improve the quality of information that people consume.

    Structural Framework of Fact-checking Organisations in Nigeria

    The fact-checking organisations in Nigeria maintain a lean staff strength and are subsidiaries of some parent organisations. The experts and those who are technology-savvy or possess skills to fact-check claims based on the IFCN principles are few. For instance, Dubawa is a non-profit entity that operates as a project within the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) which “serve as an incubation for innovative media development projects in Nigeria.” PTCIJ is structured in such a way as to allow the Dubawa fact-checking project to operate as an independent organisation. 

    AFP (Nigeria) fact-checking organisation which is a project of AFP operates as an international news agency’s digital verification service at the Lagos bureau. Africa Check, on the other hand, considers itself a non-profit media organisation and regards its work as part of the journalistic genre. David Ajikobi says: “I will say in my opinion, (fact-checking activities) is more of 70 percent of the journalism genre and 30 percent development communication.” As at August 2020, AfricaCheck runs a lean operation in Nigeria and works with independent journalists and has about four permanent staff and one part time staff in its Nigeria office.

    Unlike the study of Stencel (2019) which finds out that in the United States, the establishment of independent and standalone fact-checking organisations are making waves than those affiliated to media organisations; the experience in Nigeria indicated otherwise. Except for Africa Check, the other two fact-checking organisations, Dubawa and AFP, have affiliations with mainstream media organisations. 

    The Technological Architecture for Factchecking

    The issue of technology featured prominently in all the fact-checking processes in Nigeria. It was identified as a catalyst to the problem and at the same time one of the solutions to information disorder in the country. As purveyors of disinformation are using technology to spread false information and disrupt the information ecosystem, fact-checking organisations are using the same innovative technology to combat information disorder. Issues of digital divide and poor technological infrastructure in Nigeria were identified as some of the challenges to digital literacy and these provide opportunity for purveyors of disinformation to capture more victims and use them as tools for dissemination of misinformation… Read more


    FACT CHECKS OF THE WEEK 

    On August 24, a verified twitter handle, Wanazila (@wana_) claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a new police bill that gives the Police the right to arrest without a warrant or court order. How true?

    On Thursday evening, hours after the World Trade Organization shortlisted Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and South Korean’s Yoo Myung Hee for its top Job, an online medium, ObserverTimes, posted a story on its website that claims Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has…

    incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Eyitayo Jegede, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), participated in a live debate organized by Channels Television. Barely an hour into the debate, on Wednesday night, the governor claimed…


    QandA

    • Did President Buhari sign a new Police bill to allow officers arrest without a warrant? 

    Yes, he did. President Muhammadu Buhari assented to a new Nigeria Police Bill, 2020 which accords police officers the power to arrest without a warrant except on grounds where the laws spelling out an offense permit a warrant before an arrest. The power to arrest without a warrant was spelled out in Section 38(1) of the act. Read further for more details.

    • What is the Air Virus Blocker?

    According to the manufacturers, the Virus Air is designed to “eliminate all forms of microbial life” and provide “ultimate protection against airborne infectious diseases”, including for children, pregnant women and immuno-compromised people such as cancer patients. The company explained that it is a portable product that helps in preventing viruses, bacteria, and fungi from coming in contact with the user within a one-meter radius. It contains sodium chloride, natural inorganic substances – natural zeolite.

    • Is the Air Virus Blocker effective against COVID-19?

    The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which is the country’s national public health institute, has stated that there is no available evidence to suggest the use of a body-worn tag often marketed as ‘Air Doctor’ purifies the air around the wearer. 

    Also, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control disowned Air Doctor and other products that are marketed as capable of blocking COVID-19 from infecting the wearers. The regulatory agency told PUNCH HealthWise that the devices have not been registered by NAFDAC, even though it received applications for registration of some of them.  Hence, there is no available evidence that the Air Virus Blocker has any effect on the new coronavirus. (Continue Reading)

    • What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?

    Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease. This is according to a study by the World Health Organization. Though early research suggested that it could take 2 weeks for the body to get over a mild illness, Newer data shows that recovery varies for different people, depending on things like your age and overall health.


    What can you do? 

    Be alert, share our tips and don’t share false news! 


    Coronavirus infection count 

    Note: Total cases may be more than officially stated owing to the inability to include unconfirmed cases. Stay safe


    Tip of the week 


    #FakeNews Alert 

    There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fueling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

    Linda Ikeji’s blog has, on Monday, published that China has declared a health emergency over Black death plague after a three-year-old boy was struck down by the disease. Besides, this online news platform, a screenshot of a website conveying the message has also been spotted on WhatsApp, but, does a Black Death Plague exist in China?  Be sure to find out before spreading the claim further.

    • BUHARI PROPOSES NEW SALARY FOR TEACHERS EQUAL SALARY WITH THE POLICE – SOURCE: WhatsApp Message

    Be careful when reading WhatsApp broadcast messages. While they are prone to false information and opinions presented as facts, culprits on the platform can hardly be traced. Hence, it is important to verify before you share. Get your information from credible sources.


    Other Fact-checks/Articles 

  • League Of COVID-19 skeptics: Trump’s positive result completes the quorum

    The world woke up on Friday 2nd October 2020 to the biggest news of the Covid era when the President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump, announced that he and his wife were going into quarantine on  account of a Covid19 infection. 

    Mr. Trump, by that event, enrolled himself into a compact league of world leaders who have been criticized for their skepticism and the lethargic approach towards curbing the novel coronavirus. 

    Since health experts and citizens have wondered if the fatality rate was not enough to awaken these leaders, considering the devastating impact of the deadly virus,  DUBAWA takes a sweeping review of the global landscape, exploring the claims of the leading lights of this movement of COVID-19 deniers that have now expanded the meaning and content of what the coalition of nine global institutions [WHO, UN, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNAIDS, ITU, UN Global Pulse, and IFRC] have defined as infodemic, that art of unrestrained propagation of misinformation about the pandemic. 

    The global attention to the pandemic is a point of serious worry because, as the nine global institutions noted their 23rd September 2020 statement that, “The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media are being used on a massive scale to keep people safe, informed, productive, and connected.”  

    To that extent, the actions and omissions of global leaders can play a significant role in making this campaign succeed or fail, as the movement once stated: “At the same time, the technology we rely on to keep connected and informed is enabling and amplifying an infodemic that continues to undermine the global response and jeopardizes measures to control the pandemic.”

    This is partly why the world worries: “Misinformation costs lives. Without the appropriate trust and correct information, diagnostic tests go unused, immunization campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) will not meet their targets, while the virus continues to thrive.

    “Furthermore, disinformation is polarizing public debate on topics related to COVID-19; amplifying hate speech; heightening the risk of conflict, violence and human rights violations, and threatening long-term prospects for advancing democracy, human rights and social cohesion” the global institutions said.

    Here, therefore, are the four key world leaders as we trace the trail of time on their tepid approach to coronavirus and how they fell victims to their own disbelief.

    President Donald Trump of the USA: the chief doubter

    On Thursday, President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus after claiming “it will disappear”, later ratifying the use of Hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and further accusing journalists of deliberately exaggerating the virus.

    President Trump’s carefree approach toward the virus was apparent. First, he failed to formulate a national testing strategy, refused to wear a facemask (even after some of his aides tested positive), then he wafted with the idea of injecting patients with bleach, maintained that the virus “affects virtually nobody” at one of his mass-attended campaigns and even mocked  his contender, Joe Biden, at Tuesday’s presidential debate, saying “He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I have ever seen.”

    Even when more than 200,000 Americans had died from the virus, Mr. Trump described the coronavirus as an “invincible enemy” but this is not the case now, as just 32 days before the US elections, Mr. Trump is now required to be quarantined from what he once deemed as invincible.

    Mr. Trump was meant to go on campaign trips and face Joe Biden for the second presidential debate but with the sudden turn of events, he is likely to do none. Mr. Trump’s contraction of the virus is hoped to improve his concern towards his approach to the pandemic,  alongside several of his aides who seem to share his anti-science view of the virus. 

    During the presidential election, most of Mr. Trump’s staff did not wear masks in the auditorium. Even  Hope Hicks, a senior aide to the President, who was present at the debate, also tested positive. This clearly illustrates the validity in words of Miles Taylor’s, a foremost Trump critic, who tweeted, “We should ALL wish for our President and first lady to recover. But this is also a serious national security concern and an alarming upshot of the White House’s lax approach to this deadly pandemic”.

    Mr. Trump questioned the existence and the severity of the coronavirus, threw sarcasm at some of the measures meant to curb the spread, accused journalists of overhauling the virus, and even suggested unconfirmed remedies as a cure for the virus. In the end, he could not save himself and had to admit his becoming a fallen victim to the virus. At 74, the President is considered more vulnerable to the virus but no one can tell the severity of Trump’s situation until a few weeks from now.

    President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil: the Bad

    Yet, it is not only Mr. Trump who had unpopular and dogmatic views about the virus. He might have given some voice to it, but there were some world leaders who also shared his ideologies and frequently mocked the severity of the disease. President Jair Bolsonaro carries similar views as Trump over the Virus. He frequently tagged the virus as a “mild measly cold” and even when Brazil was rated as the second most hit country by the virus, Mr. Bolsonaro still attended rallies, went round without facemask, thus encouraging his supporters to disregard masks.  

    Alarmingly, with over 144,000 coronavirus related deaths in Brazil, Mr. Bolsonaro dismissed the threat of the virus as mild, and in July, when he contracted the virus, he kept on promoting the hydroxychloroquine pills as a remedy for the disease against the guidance of the general health practice that tagged the pill as ineffective to the virus and potentially hazardous. 

    Little has changed even after Bolsonaro’s recovery because on September 22, during his address in the UN virtual General Meeting, Mr. Bolsonaro still accused some media of “politicizing” the virus and planting fear and panic amongst the population. Though he also claimed to have spent over $400 million towards COVID-19 vaccine research and development, he still told reporters “that no one can force anyone to get a vaccine.” Mr. Bolsonaro seems to tie his recovery from coronavirus to Anti-malaria drugs and how mild he thought the virus was. 

    Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus: the Ugly

    Like Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolsonaro, Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus who has been in power since 1994 perceived the virus as a case of media exaggeration, even tagging it as a mere “Psychosis” that is targeted at shifting people’s reality. Unlike most countries and even his fellow ideologues who later placed a lockdown on their nations,  Mr. Lukashenko refused to impose a lockdown and proffered vodka and saunas as a remedy for the virus all through the wave of the pandemic.  Even when neighboring countries went on total lockdown, Belarus remained open, and Mr. Lukashenko remained defiant

    Even when cases of infected persons continued to soar in Belarus, he said “it’s better to die standing than life on your knees.” After contracting the virus in July and his eventual recovery,  Mr. Lukashenko said “I lived through the virus” but still remained indifferent as regards the virus, rather focusing on how to maintain his decades of authoritarian rule that is facing protest from civilians.

    Boris Johnson of Britain: the Repentant

    Borris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain who also dismissed the idea of lockdown and social-distancing and perceived the virus as a passing circumstance had a change of paradigm after contracting and battling the virus in March. Unlike Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Bolsonaro, Mr. Johnson spent 3 days in an intensive care unit and had to hand over power to his deputy. After his recovery, he took a different turn, appreciating the National Health Service,  letting out that it had “saved his life, no question.”  

    The British Prime Minister, on a return to his office in April, preached for what he once stood against. He cautioned people to take the measures seriously and brought tight restrictions to curtail the influx of the virus and encouraged people to work from home if they can. 

    Though Britain has been considered the worst hit in Europe, with more than 56,000 reported deaths, the case seemed to have faired marginally after Mr. Johnson’s recovery.

    Nevertheless, some of these leaders seem  stubborn even after their experience as victims of the virus, their ordeal verifies one thing, ‘the existence of the virus’. And it should also be noted that many leaders and government officials have succumbed to the virus, like the case of Late Abba Kyari and and Late Senator Ajimobi in Nigeria. 

    Conclusion 

    Coronavirus is still ravaging communities and though some leaders have taken good measures for their nations, many are still stuck in controversy, risking the lives of their citizens in the process.  Time has, however, proven that not even the leaders who once ignored and shunned the virus were immune. Hence, the prevalence of the virus can be argued but not certainly its existence or even its severity. 

  • The use of ‘Air Doctor’ virus blockers as protection against COVID-19, how effective are they?

    Of recent, many notable personalities and political figures around the world go about their respective public functions with the ‘Air Doctor’ virus blocker tag. Sometimes known as ‘Virus Shut-Out’, they look like normal ID badges. 

    But according to their manufacturers, they are made of chemicals to wipe out airborne pathogens and protect wearers from disease.

    The manufacturers noted that the Air Doctor badge releases small amounts of chlorine dioxide which can kill airborne pathogens, including the coronavirus.

    It can be hung on the chest, pocket, or bag.

    But how true is this claim and how effective are these virus blockers?

    How does it work?

    As we adapt to new realities, new questions constantly arise. What kind of masks should be worn? Can air blockers be the solution for any of these problems? 

    Manufacturers claim that virus removal cards can kill bacteria and viruses because of the key ingredient; chlorine dioxide, a disinfectant used to treat drinking water and sterilise medical equipment. 

    The claim is that it is able to “provide protection against airborne pathogens”, presumably including the novel coronavirus.

    The tags, according to the manufacturers, “eliminate all forms of microbial life” and provide “ultimate protection against airborne infection diseases”, including for children, pregnant women and immuno-compromised people such as cancer patients. 

    The product is sold under various commercial names, including Air Doctor, Virus Shut-Out and Chlorine Card.

    Also, a Japan based company Kiyou Jochugiku Co. Ltd in July, launched “Air Doctor” in India. According to the company,  it is a portable product that helps prevent viruses, bacteria, and fungi from coming in contact with the user within a 1-meter radius. It contains sodium chloride, natural inorganic substances – natural zeolite.

    The company noted that the product is approved worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration and The Japan Ministry of Health, Welfare & Labor.

    The product has been marketed as a flu treatment in Japan since 2015, long before the novel coronavirus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

    However, the Japanese consumer affairs agency on May 15, 2020 warned the public that the product was ineffective against COVID-19.

    How much does it cost?

    According to the manufacturers, once it is opened, the tags are effective for up to one month. 

    However, the effective period may differ under different circumstances.

    Dubawa found out that Cleaneat Integrated Services, is one of the major dealers of Air Doctor, Virus busters, and other air purifiers in Nigeria. 

    Dubawa found the items for sale online, checks revealed that the price of Air Doctor depends on the quality and also fluctuates depending on the level of demand for the tags. 

    Currently, the retail price for the Air Doctor tag is N17,000 while the wholesale price is N150,000/pack containing 12 pieces.

    How effective are these cards? 

    The card has been banned in several countries this year, including in the US, Thailand, and the Philippines.

    The “virus blockers” were originally created in Japan. They have been banned in Vietnam and Thailand, but are on sale in Hong Kong, the Middle East, Russia, and the U.S. under a number of different brand names.

    In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned people to avoid products containing chlorine dioxide, saying that its ingestion by a number of individuals as a prophylactic against the virus has resulted in “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.” 

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned Virus Shut Out badges from entering domestic ports, and instructed Amazon to remove the product from their site. 

    Last month, when President Donald Trump made comments suggesting that injecting disinfectant could treat the coronavirus, supporters in conspiracy circles such as QAnon jumped at the notion that he was referring to chlorine dioxide — the chemical compound has long been touted and sold by fringe figures as a cure for everything from HIV to the common cold.

    No available evidence ‘Air Doctor’ purifies the air – NCDC

    The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which is the country’s national public health institute, has stated that there is no available evidence to suggest the use of a body-worn tag often marketed as ‘Air Doctor’ purifies the air around the wearer. 

    The efficacy of such air-purifier pouches outdoors is also yet to be established, with Kiyou Jochugiku saying it becomes less effective in open-air settings. 

    Notable personalities in Nigeria have appeared in public in recent weeks wearing the “virus removal cards”, clip-on tags marketed as prevention against infectious diseases. 

    ‘Devices have not been registered by NAFDAC’

    The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control disowned Air Doctor and other products that are marketed as capable of blocking COVID-19 from infecting the wearers.

    The regulatory agency told PUNCH HealthWise that the devices have not been registered by NAFDAC, even though it received applications for registration of some of them.

    An epidemiologist and population health scientist at Harvard University, Dr. Ibraheem Abioye, said, “There is really no evidence that the products work. The sellers claim that the products sanitise the air around the wearer. But we know that some of the people who have been the main advocates still became infected with COVID-19.

    “There are already science-backed actions that people should take and shams like these are likely to put people at risk.”

    Conclusion

    Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, WHO has repeatedly stated that there is no specific cure or prevention for COVID-19. 

    In August, the World Health Organization said there may never be a magical cure for the coronavirus even as scientists and drugmakers across the globe race to find a safe and effective vaccine.

    Air Doctor products are not licenced by FDA and in any other country by its drug control agency.  

    The active ingredient in Air Doctor and similar products is authorized to be used to disinfect medical instruments or food and is not to be used as a human protection against infection.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with The Nation to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

  • Misinformation sharing and behavioural pattern of Nigerians on viral Stella Immanuel video

    Summary

    On July 28, Nigerian social media space was flooded with several versions of a video of a woman, identified as Stella Immanuel, among a group of United States’ doctors, vehemently making unsubstantiated claims about hydroxychloroquine and the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, while dismissing other promoted preventive behaviours. The video went viral globally, generating tens of million in views across social media platforms. The video added to the streams of misinformation on the pandemic with the potential to hinder progress being made in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The video was fact-checked by several fact-checking organisations and they all dismissed the claims.  In this piece, we examine the virality of the video among respondents, their convictions on the claims made and likely behaviour in the possibility of suspected COVID-19 infection.  Our findings supported virality of the video with more than 90 percent being aware of the video, but with limited shares among respondents. Despite repeated fact-checks, those who still believed claims made in the video were found more likely to try hydroxychloroquine than those who do not. Respondents mostly expressed positive views towards wearing facemasks to limit the spread of the virus. The virality of the video compared to its fact-checks supports the need to stop misinformation from spreading in the earliest possible time. Hence, fact checkers must continuously be alert to track misinformation in the public space and stop its spread immediately.

    Introduction

    Among frequently shared misinformation about the coronavirus is the controversial use of hydroxychloroquine either as a curative or preventive measure to the ravaging pandemic. This was recently heightened with the viral video of a group that called itself America’s Frontline Doctors. On July 27, members of the group appeared before the United States Supreme Court in branded white coats and made a series of claims dismissing official response and measures to curtail the pandemic. The choice of the Supreme Court frontage was probably to lend credence to the group.  

    Among vehement speakers at the event is a controversial Nigerian-trained US-based doctor, Stella Immanuel, who made unsubstantiated claims regarding hydroxychloroquine as a cure to COVID-19 and dismissed wearing of face masks. Days later, Stella Immanuel claimed she was on a spiritual mission to save the world. Others in the video might also be of questionable personality, with this report indicating little evidence most had worked as COVID-19 frontline workers as suggested by the group’s name. 

    Soon after the group released the video, President Trump retweeted the video and it went viral thereafter. Several versions of the video were shared across social media platforms. The New York Times reported a version with 16 million views on Facebook alone. It was also a leading performing post on Twitter with over 14 million views.  This is despite the fact that social media companies removed the video within hours of its upload.  Not surprisingly, the video reignited widespread interest in potential use of hydroxychloroquine in combating the coronavirus pandemic. No doubt, Hydroxycloroquine has shown promising results in the management of COVID-19 cases in many societies. Recently, Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, reported positive outcomes in its use at the early stage of COVID-19 infection. Several studies are ongoing globally, with no consensus yet among the scientific community.  There has also been a call for local efforts in dealing with the global pandemic based on the peculiarities of each society. Recently, when the WHO initially called for a halt in clinical trials on the use of Hydroxycloroquine to treat the virus, NAFDAC continued its approval locally.

    Existing controversy within the scientific community might thus be adding to the confusion among the general public.  Experts continue to denounce Immanuel’s claims as “personal opinion, which has no scientific backing and could simply be regarded as “unsubstantiated claims” to “be taken with a pinch of salt”. To the layman, however, she is the courageous doctor ready to go against all odds to halt the spread of the pandemic.

    The video has since been debunked by fact-checkers (e.g.  Dubawa, Africa Check, Politifact), confirming that hydroxycloroquine is not yet approved as a cure for COVID-19, since research is still ongoing to test the efficacy of the drug. In this piece, we examine how selected Nigerians perceived this viral video and their subsequent reaction following the “FALSE” verdict of fact-checkers. Specifically, we examine the virality of the video among respondents and their perception of the claims made before and after reading any of the fact-checks.

    Method

    This study adopted the online survey method using google form to prepare a 21-item questionnaire. The questionnaire’s link was shared through WhatsApp messaging app for people to respond to, with an additional message for recipients to help share among their contacts.  Responses were gathered over a two-week period from Saturday, August 8 to Saturday August 22, 2020. A total of 222 respondents filled the questionnaire from across the country and beyond, but with the South-west recording dominance.  The respondents comprise 54 percent male and 46 percent female. The age distribution of respondents is presented in the pie chart below.

    Figure 1

    Findings

    Findings from this study support the virality of the video. Ninety percent of respondents confirmed familiarity with the video. Seven percent said they were not aware of the video while about 3 percent were unsure if they had seen the video.  Majority of respondents confirmed seeing the video on more than one social media platform. Less than 20 percent confirmed sharing the video. WhatApp and Facebook led single platforms through which people saw the video. 

    Figure 2

    Across age groups, 80 to 100 percent of respondents confirmed seeing the video.  The elderly population (above 60 years) more readily shared the video. Half of respondents over 60 years confirmed sharing the video.

    Figure 3
    Figure 4

    Respondents mostly expressed neutrality in believing her claims, but with more denouncing her claims than believing it.  Those neutral about the claims and those with higher belief in the claims shared the video more than those with less conviction about the claims.  Some of those who believe her claims noted they were persuaded by her convincing oratory which according to them was “detailed with proof.”  Other reasons for believing her claims were  confirmation of their previous suspicion of a cure, lingering controversies within the scientific community, support based on success in clinical trials locally and shared experiences of recovered covid-19 patients Those who considered the claim a hoax noted their ingenuity of covid-19 misinformation and said they considered the “staged event” a “political propaganda” with unsubstantiated claims which should be viewed with scepticism, among others.

    Figure 5

    Soon after the video went viral, other social media posts emerged to counter the claims in the video even before fact checks were published on the claims. One hundred and forty-six (146) respondents confirmed reading the countering social media posts even though the majority still remained resolute in their beliefs on the claims made.

    Figure 6

    In the days following the release of the video, several fact checking organisations published fact checks on claims made in the video, amid other elements such as the so-called America’s Frontline Doctors, and individual members who featured in the video. Almost Forty-four percent (43.9%; n=94) of respondents confirmed awareness of the video fact-check while a slightly higher percentage (44.4%, n=95) claimed not to be aware. Another 12 percent were unsure of themselves.  Of the 94 respondents who confirmed awareness of the fact-checks, only 68 percent confirmed reading it.  

    Respondents mostly became aware of fact checks on the video after seeing online posts of fact check debunking claims made in the video. Many also found out about it through shared posts on the fact checks or were notified by social media platforms. Few respondents reported learning about the fact checks through news mention mostly on notable news media organisations such as Cable News Network (CNN) and Channels TV.

    How respondents knew about the fact-checking?Percentage of Respondents aware of fact-checking on the video
    I saw the post of the fact-checked article36%
    Someone shared the fact-checked article with me30%
    I was notified on social media27%
    News media mention7%
    Total(n)100%(94)
    Table 1: How respondents aware of fact-checking of the video knew about it

    Respondents in the study were neutral in supporting fact-checkers’ verdict on claims made in the video.  The greatest percentage (35%) of respondents gave average scores to their support of the false verdict of fact checkers.  However, the percentage of those supporting the verdict (Rated 4 and 5) are generally higher than those opposing it (Rated 1 and 2).  Those opposing fact checkers’ verdict confirmed their likelihood to take hydroxychloroquine (or in combination other drugs) to prevent COVID-19 in contrast to those supporting it.  Similarly, those indecisive (rated 3) and those not supporting fact-checkers’ verdict (rated 1 and 2) were found more likely to self-medicate with hydroxychloroquine if they suspect they might be infected with COVID-19.

    Figure 7

    Respondents expressed diverse views on promoted behaviours in the video. Majority of respondents simply expressed support for wearing facemask while a few more supported the idea with notable caution.  Another dominant view focused on its preventive capability, emphasising its need to curb the spread of the virus. However, some considered the preventive ability of facemask to be relative based on specific circumstances. Less dominant views considered wearing facemask simply as a civil behaviour in obedience to official directive. Others deemphasised its necessity in curbing the virus, noting it generally filters the air we breathe in and prevents common air-borne disease. Few respondents considered it unnecessary and/or ineffective in limiting the spread of the virus while few others focused on its limitations and considered it to be hazardous suggesting it might be risky for some with underlying breathing challenges. Others were indifferent or considered wearing facemask as an individual’s choice.

     Views on wearing masksFrequencyPercentage
    Support the idea8038.3
    Preventive7736.8
    Official directive125.7
    General prevention115.3
    Support the idea with caution115.3
    Relatively preventive52.4
    Ineffective / unnecessary52.4
    Hazardous31.4
    Indifferent31.4
    Others21.0
    Total209100.0
    Table 2: Themes in Respondents’ views on wearing masks

    Figure 8

    Respondents sharing video?Respondents’ sharing fact-check?Total
    YesNo
    Yes6%12%18%
    No13%69%82%
    Total(n)19%(37)81%(159)100%(196)
    Table 3: Respondents’ sharing of the video and its fact-check?

    Generally, the level of information sharing on the video appears to be minimal among respondents. As noted in table 10, the extent to which respondents shared the original video and its subsequent fact checks is minimal, occurring in less than 20 percent in both cases.

    Conclusion

    Findings from the study above confirm earlier observations that fact checks do not often attain the virality of misinformation posts they countered. As noted by Funke (2019), this need not discourage fact checkers as there have also been several promising results on potential of well-written fact checks to change people’s misconceptions. Fact-checkers must learn to debunk misinformation without further promoting the misinformation, by limiting detailed references to the debunked claims.

    Efforts of giant social media platforms, though commendable, need to be intensified to stop the spread of misinformation as early as possible. For instance, the viral video examined in this study had been viewed more than 14 million times on Twitter and 16 million times on Facebook before its removal. Despite that, it is still likely available among millions of social media users who had downloaded it to their device’s memory while still available.  No doubt, the number of views would have been much higher had it been left online.  Fact checkers thus have to be increasingly alert to stem the spread of misinformation through prompt publication of their fact checks and aggressive promotion of their fact checks.

  • Eight signs of propaganda as Edo, Ondo go to the polls

    By Francis Arinze Iloani

    As the Edo and Ondo States Election approaches, we have identified eight types of political disinformation [otherwise known as propaganda] designed and viciously disseminated to sway the choices of would-be voters. In fact, a recent article, by Iwok Iniobong titled “Edo, Ondo guber: Why politicians, parties must tread softly,” posited that politicians in Edo and Ondo campaigns had deviated from their manifestos in favour of spreading misinformation and disinformation. “If you observe very well, presentation of manifestos is no longer the in-thing, but the campaign is about use of base language and innuendos against opponents,” Iniobong said. 

    Exhibit 1 – there were several opposing information circulated through the media, particularly the social media, on the attack on Governor Godwin Obaseki’s entourage at the Oba of Benin Palace. 

    The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council, Chief Dan Orbih, alleged that “the attack was a plot to eliminate Governor Obaseki, national officials of PDP and some PDP governors.”

    Conversely, the Vice Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) National Campaign Council, Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon, alleged that the PDP was responsible for the attack and that Governor Obaseki was planning to arrest and detain the former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on the eve of the election.

    Bearing this in mind and being conscious of the reality that some media consumers may not have the required media literacy to easily detect propaganda from the legion of information in the media, here are the eight ways to easily detect propaganda in the media: 

    Bandwagon veiled as information

    Politicians veil propaganda as information in the form of bandwagon. The idea here is to convey the notion that if you don’t get aboard you will be left out. A media literate consumer should watch out for politicians who direct their appeals to groups held together by common ties. For instance, politicians at subnational levels in Nigeria are likely to rely on bandwagon effects if their party is in charge at the federal level. It is widely shared that the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari contributed to the victory of some governors and lawmakers. A media literate person should be able to notice media messages designed to appeal to sentiments of voters based on common ties, rather than merits.

    Name calling as against genuine manifestos

    Be careful of politicians who appeal to your hate and fear.  They do name calling by the use of negative words or labels to create prejudice against some person, group or idea. For instance, Dr. Charles Omorodion’s article titled “Edo 2020: Beware of Obaseki’s perfidy, betrayal and Judas Kiss!” published on Bloomshire stated that “as a betrayal, in a deeper sense, Obaseki is sending an ominous signal of how little he cares about, or values his relationship with APC.” A media literate person should judge Obaseki beyond the tag of “a betrayer.” Name calling cuts across all the political campaigners in Edo and Ondo States.

    Reliance on testimonial

    Politicians deploying testimonial propaganda use experts, celebrities, or perceived opinion leaders to offer reasons why they are best suited to be elected.  As the elections in Edo and Ondo States draw nearer, you are likely to see more celebrity endorsements of candidates. For instance, a national newspaper recently reported that  teachers in Ondo State under the auspices of the National Network of Teachers for Good Governance and Quality Education endorsed Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for a second term in office. A media literate news consumer reasons beyond such propaganda and focuses more on Governor Akeredolu’s manifesto for his second term. 

    Read more.


    Fact checks of the week

    A YouTube video from ‘Biafra Generation’ claims that the world bank has approved the Biafran currency (what they termed as the Ejemme). How true?

    A Facebook user, Okeke Nelson, on the Radio Biafra London page, put up a twitter post alleged to be from the President of the United States, Donald Trump. In the post, Trump said…

    An All Progressives Congress (APC) party leader, Joe Igbokwe, deploys varieties of cheering photographs on Facebook claiming they are that of the recently …


    QandA

    • When is the Edo election holding? 

    The Edo governorship election has been scheduled for September 19th.

    • How many Candidates are on the INEC final list for Edo election?

    According to the final list of candidates released by the Independent Electoral Commission, there are 14 candidates in total. From the 14 governorship candidates, only 2 are females.  The two female governorship candidates are Mabel Oboh of African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Agol Tracy of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).


    What can you do? 

    Be alert, share our tips and don’t share false news! 


    Coronavirus infection count 

    Note: Total cases may be more than officially stated owing to the inability to include unconfirmed cases. Stay safe!


    Tip of the week 


    #FakeNews Alert 

    Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Who is your source’s source? Has this been published by another platform? Is this a wrong headline? Is the figure accurate? Has it been Over/Under stated? Be sure to verify the content of this report before sharing.

    Questions to ask yourself:  What is the evidence behind this number? Is there a proof? Is this a misleading statement? What is the intention of the speaker? You may be shocked what you’ll find out.


    Other Fact-checks 

  • Fake social media accounts use Trump as signifier for trash talk

    A twitter post, reposted on the Facebook page RADIO BIAFRA LONDON, claims that President of the United States, Donald Trump, called Kenya Corrupt and Nigeria the devil. 

    FALSE. The said twitter account is fake and not the real account of the president of the United States.

    Full Text

    A Facebook user, Okeke Nelson, on the Radio Biafra London page, put up a twitter post alleged to be from the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

    The post reads, “I said KENYA is a very corrupt country in AFRICA and left out NIGERIA because when you are counting evil people, you don’t count the DEVIL.” 

    The post which came live on Twitter on August 21, garnered over 350 retweets, 1700 likes and many comments. While that on the Facebook page – Radio Biafra London has garnered over 1,200 likes as of Tuesday.

    The Twitter account has 1,414 followers while the Facebook page radio Biafra London has 1.5 million members 

    While few persons are aware the said account is fake, many others fell for the parody account according to the following comments: 

    Verification

    A close look at the twitter handle of the posted account shows it is a fake account, because the original twitter handle of President Donald Trump is verified. However, the said fake account is unverified.  A search on twXplorer directed the post to an account named @Trump_Donald01. This further exposed the deceptive account because the real account of the US president is @realDonaldTrump and not @Trump_Donald01.

    A further search revealed that the owner of the account has now changed the name of the account to THE REALEST but various comments on the said post tagging @Trump_Donald01 still redirected the researcher back to THE REALEST.  The name change of the parody account happened not long after the tweet went viral.

    To avoid such deception, Dubawa has re-presented below the original account of the president of the United States, the marked area shows the account as verified. 

    Conclusion

    The post is false and cannot be attributed to the president of the United States since no evidence supports the claim. It is a fake account intended to mislead and misinform the public. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Sparkling 92.3 FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • The Fact-Checker: June 15, 2020

    As other parts of the world record a downward trend in the number of new coronavirus cases, Africa, which seemed immune at first, records figures to the contrary. Data from the World Health Organization shows that the coronavirus case count in Africa has doubled in the last 18 days. Last week, Nigeria had a total of about 2,328 new cases, although with less death toll.

    Digital Trends in Nigeria

    With a population estimated to be 205,822,203, there are 85.49 million internet users in Nigeria (42% of the total population) in January 2020. According to the new Digital 2020 reports – published in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite, the number of internet users in Nigeria increased by 2.2 million (+2.6%) between 2019 and 2020, with internet penetration in Nigeria standing at 42%.

    Globally, almost 300 million people came online for the first time between January 2019 and January 2020, with the majority of those users living in developing countries. In January, there were 169.2 million mobile connections in Nigeria. This number increased by 12 million (+7.7%) between January 2019 and January 2020 and is equivalent to 83% of the total population. 

    Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by Cisco shows that in 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic globally — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. Insivia also reports that video viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, in relation to 10% for readers of the same text in print. This is in line with a scientific study that shows that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and that there is a special connection to ideas and products through visual storytelling.

    With an increase in production of cheap smartphones, internet connectivity in rural areas, and digital messaging for work and pleasure due to physical distancing policies, online information flow will continue to expand exponentially, leaving one with the question: how much accessible information is actually true? 

    Recurrent misinformation theme in the past week

    Credit: Babakay

    As more Nigerians get access to the internet, a world of possibilities is open to people who, previously, could not see the world beyond their immediate vicinity. Foreign media portrayal of the Western world as the proverbial lands flowing with milk and honey, aided by social media influencers living lavishly in these countries, means that more Nigerians yearn for a better life at the other side of the river. The riots and protests do not deter these individuals who are already familiar with the sting of poverty, degradation of social systems and police brutality.

    It is, thus, not surprising that Dubawa had to debunk a claim that the heavily criticised United States President, Donald Trump, will grant 5,000 Nigerians two years of free working visas in the country. Variations of this claim have surfaced over the past years and since Dubawa started debunking, not once have such claims been true!

    [Type “visa” on our search tab to view more immigration-related fact-checks]

    Coronavirus Q & A 

    Is there a new strain of malaria-causing people to lose their sense of smell?

    Anosmia is a partial or complete loss of smell which may occur temporarily or permanently. Usually, anosmia would be caused by swelling or blockage in the nose that prevents odours from getting to the top of the nose. Anosmia is sometimes caused by a problem with the system that sends signals from the nose to the brain.

    However, recently, health authorities have identified anosmia as a symptom of Covid-19. The loss of smell has been added to the list of coronavirus symptoms in the United Kingdom. Therefore, if you are experiencing loss of smell rather than assuming that it is a new strain of malaria, go and test for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

    Can you lose your ability to taste to COVID-19?

    Loss of taste, just like Anosmia, is a new indicator for coronavirus. Although it’s not as rampant as the latter, health authorities believe that they are related. “Anosmia refers to the loss of or change to a person’s sense of smell. The Department of Health statement said, “it can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.”

    Which state in Nigeria has zero cases of COVID-19?

    In Nigeria, as of Sunday, 14th of June, 2020, there is only one state without a single case of coronavirus. Cross River state which has its capital in Calabar remains the only state that has not recorded any case of COVID-19. 

    The state governor, Ben Ayade, during an interview with Channels Television, has explained some of the strategies employed by the state to make it COVID-free. He said, “As soon as we started reading in the papers and watching on Television the impact of the pandemic globally, what we did as a state was to quickly respond to it by blocking our state against the virus. We locked our borders immediately and commenced ‘No Mask No Movement’. We were proactive, and we have continued to sustain that…”

    Tip of the week 

    #FakeNews Alert 

    WHO advises against children under 6years wearing masks. – SOURCE: WhatsApp Image

    Did the World Health Organization issue this advice? Is the source credible? You need to ask yourself these questions to lay your hands on the facts. Remember, always keep an open mind to claims on social media. Before you forward to others, make sure to verify.

    Osinbajo Commissions Biggest biggest yam market in the world – SOURCE: WhatsApp Image

    Many times Dubawa has checked claims relating to ranking and awards, but claim-authors usually get the rankings wrong or fail to show accuracy. Questions to ask yourself: who did the ranking? How did they arrive at this conclusion? Is there anything missing in the report? Is it another case of Misleading Headlines?

    *FG* has finally approved and have started giving out free _N30,000_ Relief Funds to each citizen – SOURCE: WhatsApp

    Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Has any credible platform reported this? Who has benefited? Is this link available on any federal government website or social media accounts?

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