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Fact from fiction

Publish date: 03 December 2018
Issue Number: 802
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Media

The rise of false information has complex cultural and social reasons. Until now, though, the phenomenon has been studied mostly as it happens in the US and Europe, with relatively little attention to the situation in African countries. This is despite the fact that disinformation on the continent has often taken the form of extreme speech inciting violence or has spread racist, misogynous, xenophobic messages, often on mobile phone platforms such as WhatsApp. To fill the gap in information about ‘fake news’ in sub-Saharan Africa, Herman Wasserman and Dani Madrid-Morales conducted an online survey in Kenya, Nigeria and SA earlier this year. It had three goals: to measure the prevalence of disinformation, to learn who people believe is responsible for stopping fake news, and to understand the relationship between disinformation and media trust. ‘Our findings suggest that African audiences have low levels of trust in the media, experience a high degree of exposure to misinformation, and contribute – often knowingly – to its spread.’ The study, which is published in Moneyweb, found that media consumers in Kenya, Nigeria and SA perceive that they are exposed to ‘fake news’ about politics on a fairly regular basis. In addition, surveyed Africans said they shared ‘fake news’ with a much higher frequency than Americans do: 38% of Kenyans, 28% of Nigerians and 35% of South Africans acknowledged having shared stories which turned out to be made up.

Full Moneyweb report