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The FactChecker

4 mins read A weekly newsletter that takes a closer look at the aspects of truth and falsehood in recent news topics. In an uncertain time, stay informed about the latest news & updates on coronavirus-related developments in Nigeria.

4 mins read

Key sectors fake news thrive, pose threats

Information disorder, especially the ones that are blatantly false and seem designed to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality, has often been utilized to impact politics and foster advertising. Such fake news has also become a technique to instigate and propel social conflict. 

Additionally, news that are false and are intended to misinform readers have provoked a growing mistrust among most people over what to believe and what to discard. In worse cases, this mistrust results in incivility, uprising over fictitious incidents, or unrest. 

According to a study by  Pew Research Center,  information disorder is rated a larger problem than racism, climate change, or terrorism. However, as outstanding that may seem, it’s not actually what’s most interesting about the study. Pew finds that people have distinct views about fake news and respond differently to it, which suggests that the emphasis on misinformation might actually run the risk of making people less informed. More than making people believe false things, the rise of fake news is making it harder for people to see the truth.

This finding signals an avalanche of fake news not just as a societal menace but also as a threat to democracy. In this regard, some areas currently dominating the Nigerian social sphere may also become a nourishing ground for fake news.      

Fake news threatens democracy 

One value of democracy is the respect it accords to free flow of information and open communication. Ironically,  it is in this fold that information disorder trends, causing and arousing chaos. Fake news can provoke electoral violence, by spreading false rumours during elections; it can arouse doubts and skepticism in the electoral system and even influence voter decisions on who to vote for. 

For example, a research by Buzzfeed from August until election day in the U.S. in 2020 shows that fake news stories had more engagement on Facebook than mainstream stories did. The most ‘popular’ of such stories falsely stated that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency which received almost one million engagements (shares, reactions and comments).

In Nigeria also, the effects and impact of fake news on democracy is already prevalent. A study carried out by DUBAWA showed that fake news rated false appeared the most during the Edo and Ondo 2020 gubernatorial elections.

Continue reading here.

Fact Checks of the week

The growing rate of insecurity in Nigeria is no doubt alarming. A wide range of the growing concern amongst the citizenry is linked to the increase in banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, and clashes between farmers and herders across the country.  This reality has over the years made security issues a topic of growing concern that induces frenzy…

The ongoing crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers mostly in the south is no new story. Now, in reference to this existing reality, a Twitter user, Sarki (@Waspapping_) claims that ‘over 50 cows that belonged to Fulani herdsmen were poisoned to death by Amototekun/Yoruba youths in Akoko LGA, Ondo State. The user implied that the matter is…

Dr. Pantami, who has been under fire over acclaimed extremist comments he has made in the past, has also been the subject of discussion in recent times. As some call for his resignation, others are of the contrary opinion. It is in line with these ongoing happenings that a video, shared by a YouTube channel (Independent TV 7) purports that the minister has…

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:  

“Your body is the weakest during 3-4 am. This is the time most people die in their sleep.” – SOURCE: Twitter User, FACT (@Fact)

Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? How credible is he/she? Is there a study backing this claim? 

What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

Other Fact Checks

Strengthening Investigative Journalism for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

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