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The FactChecker

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.

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Fact Checks of the week

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Tip Of The Week


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.


“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. 

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