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The FactChecker

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How To Approach Fake News Amidst Insecurity

Imagine waking up to the news that the president is dead! That would probably be shocking news because you are human and the president is an important figure in society regardless of the sentiment about his personality.

What would likely run through your mind at such a moment? What steps would you take to “fortify” yourself and, perhaps, your close associates? And most importantly, would you check to verify if the story about the president’s purported death is true or not?

When people find themselves in this situation, rather than make efforts to ascertain the veracity of the story, they often tend to believe the story and take unwanted actions almost immediately based on what they have read. That’s because emotions are high and the dodgy story probably aligns with their already established bias and reinforces existing viewpoints. The end result could be embarrassing, especially when the story is later found to be false.

This explains the spiral effect of fake news especially when it’s disseminated through social media where multiple people can have access to the same information at almost the same time.

Although one can say that fake news is not a new phenomenon, it has received much attention over time due to the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, among others.

It has become a usual practice to see people disseminating certain information and another set of people dismissing such information as false.

Fake news is basically the presentation of false and misleading content for public consumption.

The process of influencing information has existed long before the dissemination of information adopted formal processes. Thereby establishing the fact that misinformation, disinformation and mal-information have no time-bound in history and in essence promoting fake news proliferation.

A renowned German professor of online communication at the University of Münster, Thorsten Quandt, said “social media encourages the dissemination of problematic news content and permits its circulation in a novel perplexing manner.

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Tip Of The Week

#FakeNewsAlert

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 fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

CLAIM: ‘Yahoo Boys should lend us money, Nigeria is collapsing” – Lai Mohammed

SOURCE: A screenshot circulating WhatsApp

A supposed news headline attributed to a popular Nigeria newspaper – Punch – claims that the Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed has called on Yahoo boys to lend Nigeria money as the country is ‘collapsing’.  Are you shocked? Exactly! 

While this claim appears to have originated from Punch’s verified Twitter handle, it has also been found circulating WhatsApp. It is crucial to maintain a high level of skepticism as images have proved countless times to be unworthy of our trust.

Questions to ask yourself: Did it truly originate from Punch? Did Lai Mohammed make this statement? When? Where? Which other platform has published this? Is this a manipulated tweet? 

What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

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