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Why did Samsung and MTN beat a hurried retreat after garnering kudos on social media for COVID public service?

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WhatsApp Message claims that MTN AND Samsung donate 500 smartphones and free data to isolation centres.

There is no sufficient evidence to prove that the phones and data were donated to the isolation centres as the claim has implied. 

Full Text

A message circulating on WhatsApp since 17th of August claimed that two telecommunications companies, MTN and Samsung, have donated smartphones and free data to Isolation centres.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

This claim has also been found here and here.

Verification:

In a bid to verify this WhatsApp Message, Dubawa examined the link attached to the viral message, hoping to find a detailed article on the claim. However, the link led to an August 6th Facebook post by the NCDC which showed the number of coronavirus cases in the country with no extra detail.

As that process proved futile, a keyword search was conducted. The search produced a news report from Leadership, a Nigerian  Newspaper. The report, published in the Business Column of July 22nd was titled, “Samsung, MTN Donate 500 Phones, Data To Fight COVID-19” 

Details from the report support the WhatsApp message. 

The report reads, ’Five hundred A2 Core phones from Samsung together with SIM cards and 2GB data monthly for six months from MTN will be given to case managers in the isolation centres across the 36 states of the country as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

’The donation is expected to ease the process of data capturing and case reporting in these centers and supporting the government’s strategic plan in dealing with the pandemic.’

A similar report was also found in Vanguard newspaper.

Dubawa attempted to get clarification from Samsung by sending an inquiry email. While waiting for a response, we scrolled through the company’s verified Twitter handle where we found a tweet from its handle that also supports the WhatsApp claim. 

Similarly, both MTN and the Ministry of Health also tweeted the event on their official handles. Their tweets have further proved the veracity of the claim.

Dramatically, however, when Samsung’s response came to our inquiry, the message starkly contradicted the claims and hitherto affirmations around the Twitter Post.  While its tweet supports the claim, the email response tagged the claim as “misleading information” and noted that “the  information that is circulating is not true.” 

In the same vein, in live chat sessions with MTN disassociated its company from the WhatsApp message.  “Please note, MTN Nigeria is not associated with the above message,” was the response to Dubawa’s inquiry. 

Although Dubawa has also reached out to the Ministry of Health, no official response has come up to this point. 

Conclusion

Although the Twitter accounts of MTN, Samsung, and the Ministry of Health claimed that the companies donated 500 phones and data to Isolation centres; however upon close scrutiny, they pivoted to doubt.  The ministry chose to be mute on the matter. Collectively, the three institutions leave the reader in doubt as to the true status of this claim.  The claim, therefore, lacks evidence to support its veracity. 

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