Africa’s most populous countries are facing the fake-news storm just like India and Brazil. WhatsApp fake news has taken over Nigeria just around the corner of the upcoming elections in the country. A recent survey revealed that around one-third of the Nigerian population received a fake political story on WhatsApp that involved Nigerian soldiers.
Things worsened around the corner of elections, where political misinformation has made it to the public through WhatsApp forward messages. The issues that have made it to the fake news on WhatsApp include Atiku Abu-Bakr, who is the presidential candidate from the opposition People’s Democratic Party. The rumor includes that Abu-Bakr cannot enter the United States because of a corruption charge. Allwell Okpi, a Nigeria-based researcher and community manager for the fact-checking project Africa Check, said that:
“Politically related posts on WhatsApp most times have to do with ethnicity and some of them are in local languages, essentially accusing one candidate of saying something. It’s a lot more than it used to be and of course, the way it speeds is a lot faster than any other platform that we’ve seen.”
The fake news in Nigeria is not only an issue with WhatsApp but also Facebook. According to BBC, false news spread through Facebook has contributed to more than a dozen recent killings in the Plateau State. The Facebook-owned app WhatsApp has taken some measures to fight the fake news trend.
WhatsApp has reportedly imposed a forward message limit in Brazil and India to fight the spread of misinformation. Also, it banned 100,000 accounts just before the elections to stop any further misinterpretation of information. The company also appointed a grievance officer and a company head in India. The company is taking measures to spread awareness in people about the spread of misinformation through ads and in theaters. WhatsApp has been facing serious challenges when it comes to controlling the spread of fake news in the region including Nigeria. Facebook’s app should take some serious measures to stop this too as the upcoming elections are really influenced by such fake news.
Let’s see what WhatsApp does to control the situation in Nigeria. Stay tuned to learn more!