Five (5) ways to identify fake news in Nigeria

Fake news, majorly spread by social media has become a matter that requires everyone’s attention. Many youths can attest to the fact that elders exposed to social media especially the most popular messaging app in Nigeria, WhatsApp, are more prone to forward fake news to all their contacts. 

The authors of these fake news are also good at including paragraphs that are sure to spark emotions in the mind of readers; thus making them share without thinking twice. Certain words like “If you love Jesus, forward this to all your contact” and “Public Attention!!!”, are usually used by them.

Back in 2014, when the Ebola virus hit Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial hub, a piece of fake news claiming the disease could be prevented by drinking and bathing with salt water went viral. It took the timely intervention of health experts to correctly inform the masses.

The most troubling thing about fake news in Nigeria is that some self-acclaimed and popular men of God are original and medium for such reports. During the emergence of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, some political figures and pastors deduced fallacious analysis of how the disease came into being and some even went as far as saying the devil is using the government against the church through COVID-19.

Here are some ways to identify or prevent yourself from believing fake news:

1. Check the source (or quoted source): If it is a news article, check if any source is quoted. If any is quoted, check the reputation of the source. A news article from a random blog should be doubted except if verified from a reputable news site. Type the headline on Google and check the sources that have it. If mainstream news media has the same story, then it is more likely to be true. If on WhatsApp, check how many times it has been forwarded. If multiple, how well do you know who sent it? Type some of the information on Google and cross-check across reputable media.

2. Reverse Image Search: Fake news might be in the form of a picture. Do a reverse image search on Google and see when the original photo was taken. If it is a YouTube video, you can verify using YouTube Data Viewer. For Chrome desktop users, the RevEye extension can be downloaded to perform the purpose.

3. Check fact-checking sites: Media houses in the fight against fake news are now establishing a fack-check desk to curb the spread. Whenever you see a piece of news, check fact-checking sites [NewsWireNGR Fact Check] to see the comment on such news.

4. Check comments: If the news is posted on Twitter or Facebook, for instance, read through the comment. It is likely some set of people might be able to dispute it and alert others. Sometimes, such comments may help you decide such news or video is a skit and not real.

5. Use your sense: If the content of the news is too good or too ridiculous to be true, it might be. Before spreading such, hold on, research or wait as it is very possible further evidence could emerge and get to the media. At such point, you would be able to have enough substantial evidence to determine if it is true or not. Always apply your personal knowledge on a matter and research what experts are saying concerning it before agreeing with the author of the news.

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