This week, the world commemorated International Fact-checking Day. The day is promoted by the International Fact-Checking Network in partnership with fact-checking organizations around the world.

The Centre for Democracy and Development is dedicated to helping reduce the increasing spread of misinformation across the sub-region and has continued to track misinformation from when the Ebola crisis hit Africa to the current day. Battling misinformation in times of national crisis has become a pattern that has emerged in have Nigeria and can be correspondingly deadly.

Why Does Fake News Easily Spread in Nigeria?

Our research has shown that that the spread of misinformation in Nigeria can be attributed to weak institutions, a long history of low trust in government, low social capital, elite division, and low government responsiveness. 

These leave the country especially vulnerable to the essential challenge posed by any national crisis. The distrust in government also means that citizens are more likely to seek alternative solutions rather than look to the government to provide them. Misinformation propagates more rapidly in such an environment.

Disinformation and misinformation have continued to spread despite efforts by many organisations to counter its dissemination across social media and at the community level.

While the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic did not make things easy, the advent of vaccines from various companies skyrocketed the proliferation of false claims and narratives on the disease, its spread and the vaccination against COVID-19.

In the past week, there has been an increase in cross border narratives – mostly championed by people of great influence – on the use and administration of the new COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the influential people used to push these narratives and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine included politicians, social media influencers and religious leaders.

In a twist of fate, some of the influential individuals who had peddled false narratives and claims on the COVID-19 vaccine and describing it as the mark of the beast or anti-Christ have joined the first batch of receivers of the vaccine.

However, the concern remains; the possibility of reaching out to all those who have been led astray by the false claims peddled by these influential people.


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