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‘Fake news is causing more damage than good to the society’


A man with a mobile phone checking a social media site.

Jennifer Uwakwe is a law student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus. She said that her reaction to any story in the media depends largely on the gravity of the story.

She stated that she gets very disturbed each time she reads a fake report in the media, which on the long run is proven to be false.

“If it is a serious matter, I will actually blame the media house for allowing itself to be used to deceive the public. This is because most youths are influenced by what they read and see and as such, I like being guarded in things that come my way,” she said.


Jennifer further stated that her confidence in any medium that was used to convey fake news automatically erodes when it becomes habitual, adding that though she would always use the social media for information, “I do not believe everything I read from there, because, majority of what you read is not true”.

She, however, advocated that operators of the social media platforms should be more credible with their news, since over 80 percent of the youths rely on it to get information.

A blogger, Ugonna Nnadi, said it was a societal problem.

“We pay more attention to negative issues than those that tend to project the society on the path of progress. If as a blogger you continue to talk about positive developments, nobody will want to know you; but project half-truths and see everybody rushing to know what has happened. But be that as it may, it is causing more damage than good to the society and I think the best way is not for us to continue to patronise it.

“For me, the youths are more endangered by fake news because it will surely be noticed in their behaviour. The level of damage we have caused to the society is such that our youths pay more attention to social media than the conventional news media.

And in also trying to stay afloat, the conventional ones have lost their potency and in an attempt to survive have imbibed the pattern of the social media. That is why you see online publications with information that could not be verified and they still pride as news managers.

“There should be a kind of regulation on what should be seen in the social media and people should be able to verify what they post. I hate fake stories and don’t like projecting one”, he said.

A student of the Federal University Birnin Kebbi and Managing Director of KAS Media Consult, Mrs. Amina Yahyah Kas, said that guarding fake news has become increasingly difficult because social media has become forum for uncensored and unverified information.


Speaking in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state capital, Mrs. Amina added that fake news comes in different forms that include distorted truth, outright lies, exaggerated facts and others.

She said the use of social media has created a lot of destruction in the society.

“While in social media fake news is more than the real one, people use it anyhow. There should be decorum in using social media. Government needs to do something about it to ensure sanity in the country,” she said.

Also speaking, a secondary school student, Gideon Chikamma, said he was not aware that a video could be altered. He admitted that he forwards any broadcast message he gets online, as he is not even aware that he could verify it.

“I am not aware that I can actually verify an information so I just pass it on to as many people as I can”.

He is not the only one in this boat of ignorance as there are so many more youths who do not know that the same way they get an information online, is the same way they can verify that information.


Success Edeh assumes that things she sees online, especially videos are genuine because things like that happen in reality.

“I form my opinion from the things I read or hear on social media. I don’t check whether they are real or fake, I just forward them immediately. I really don’t read newspapers or news articles; neither do I watch any television stations because they keep telling us the same old story. Everything is still how they have always been.”

Opeyemi Orelaja, a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Ibadan, told The Guardian that the information he gets online does not in any way shape his opinion about issues because he verifies them.

“I do not believe anything I read online. If I hear something, I check with close friends who I am sure do not carry fake news and are knowledgeable in the subject, or live around the vicinity where something happened, or I log on to news sites that are credible and have proven it over time. Alternatively, I ask Google.”

In Owerri, Imo State capital, the publisher and Editor- in – chief of, Mr. Innocent Onyeukwu, told The Guardian that challenges of the online media is enormous.

‘’One of the challenges is fake news or what we call evil news. Because the social media lacks regulation and control, anyone is free to post or spread any form of news including false news on it.

‘’At the same time, it is difficult to stop because it lacks control and regulation. There is no policy regulating the use of the social media. But it is commendable that the NUJ at its national conference in Kano recently took far- reaching recommendations on how to curtail the spread of fake news on the social media.

‘”There is need to distinguish those who spread fake news on the internet and those who are practicing online journalism using social media platforms to spread accurate news.

‘”I am glad online journalism is coming up strongly in the country particularly here in Imo State. And this should be encouraged. By the time online journalism is fully entrenched and more journalists come into it, people will now know where to source or get accurate news from on the internet and there will be less dependence on those who post fake news on the internet.’”


Adebimpe Olabanji, a 25-year-old cosmetologist said, it is no longer news that one should not believe everything one reads on social media, as the case is not peculiar to Nigeria alone but all over the world.

However, she believes that in every fake news on social media, there is element of truth.

“So what I do is read and ask myself one question, is this for real? That usually helps me minimise spreading the information until it becomes trending news that credible newspapers publish. Another way I check the seemingly online fake news is to pay attention to the television news hours, especially Channels TV, NTA and TVC.”

To Nasom Chukwugozie, it is easier and more affordable to read online news without struggling with flipping through pages of newspaper.

“Even as a student I do more of online reading with my phone and laptop. It is just so easy to read everything and anything anywhere on my phone, without worrying so much what the facts are.

“Reading the paper and watching news on TV is a long process with a lot of input, especially with the TV that takes electricity to actually power and as we all know Nigeria is short of electricity.

“With my phone, power is certain as I can bank power on my potable power-bank phone charger and I am good for a whole day with all I need online, without power failure while the news is still on,” he said.

Dapo Okeowo said that the reason for circulation of online news has little or nothing to do with the authenticity of it; it is all about the excitement.

“For instance, I read a story online about a Nigerian senator who lured a young girl with money and expensive gifts, then killed her in an attempt to use her for money rituals. In this case, I don’t think I would be interested in the facts. I was alarmed and just felt the need for people to read, so I reposted it and expected reactions.


“So it is not about facts or sourcing the originator of the story, but wanting others to read what I read, and perhaps learn from it,” he said.

Mrs Vivian Ibazebo, a graduate said: “If you have been around long enough, then you’ll know that fake news is not a recent issue.

Walk the streets of Lagos and you will see cheap magazines with sensational headlines, most of which are copied from online platforms, the front-page headlines looks absurd, and also contain fake news stories.

But these shoddily published magazines sell faster than the verified newsprints because they feed people’s love for gossip and controversy.”

Chukwuebuka Ojukwu said that fake news is usually sensational in nature and are very likely to spread quickly.

“It is not something to be easily eradicated, as long as people are buying smart phones just to read news on online platforms.”

“News sites and blogs publish stories without authenticating the sources. Blogging is more like a competition ground for attention and advertising revenue. They go on social media to promote content and would likely do anything to boost traffic.”

Steven Ngerem said: “The issue of fake news is something we have to face everyday and it spreads quickly, because the platforms containing the news are already engaged with massive reader base that looks to them for information.

The people that read them will likely believe the stories and convince others just like the way I was told of the monkey that swallowed money, which we all know isn’t possible”.

Speaking to The Guardian, a banker Adiaga Samuel, said online fake news affects people’s opinion as it has the widest reach.

“Most youths hardly listen to news on radio and television or buy newspapers as they get all information through social media site. The youths need to differentiate what is real and fake news by confirming that with the newspaper publications, watch television and listen to radio stations to verify information correctly. There should be awareness on the issue of social media programmes targeted towards the youths and regulation of creation of blogs,” he said.

According to Gilbert Ekugbe a businessman, most people circulate everything they read on social media because they lack in-depth knowledge of true happenings in the society.

“I would say 50 percent of people that get fake news tend to believe it. A good example is the whatsApp messages, people copy and paste information on social media even when they don’t know the source or its authenticity.”

Cletus Ashio who works with a private company that provides media monitoring service believes that the social media has become a necessary evil in Nigeria.

He opined that in order to reduce their negative impact, security agencies and those charged with information management for government should be proactive.

Joseph Ikutegbe, a geology student at Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto (UDUS) is of the view that the social media should be seen more for their entertainment value because “anybody taking their reports is likely to come to the wrong conclusion and end up in confusion.”


How The Need For Hits, Clicks Drive Fake News On Social Media
By Tobi Awodipe
WHEN Facebook was launched in 2004, it became one of the first social media and today has grown into several billions of users all over the world. Since then, dozens of other social sites have emerged and with them came what is today known as sensationalism and fake news.

Today, social media has ended up hurting us for the very reason it was once greeted with enthusiasm, because anyone can create a blog, post a YouTube video or send out a tweet, established media outlets no longer have a lock on creating or distributing the news.

But because of this same reason, anyone can indeed post anything and today, social media has become the overwhelming distribution network for fake news and other forms of misinformation.

On November 14, 2016, Google announced that its advertising tools would not be available to sites that post fake news. If this has taken effect in Nigeria, it is yet to show because online sites, YouTube channels and other social media still generate fake news per second.

Factor in the fact that people began to make money from posting videos and stories on blogs, it became a frenzied mob with everyone struggling to post things that would bring in traffic, hits and likes and in turn, generate advertisement revenue. Linda Ikeji’s blog became the benchmark for many aspiring bloggers, hence began the copy and paste syndrome, true or not.

Bunmi Eleshin, a youtuber, admits that everyone wants to be the first to post. “Competition between traditional media and social media is stiff and sometimes, even traditional media puts out fake news, sensational headlines without any substance in the report when you read it.

On social media, it’s no different as people use funny thumbnails and headlines just to drive traffic and footfall to their site. This is more evident on popular/influencer accounts on Instagram, YouTube and so on as they edit their articles, videos and pictures to attract shares, clicks and likes which in turn generates money for them.”


He went on to add that he doesn’t blame them as this was their source of income but pointed out that many people cannot discern between what is true or not and it ends us becoming ‘fact’ for these people.

“The need to make money on social media is making people steal each other’s contents, buy followers, subscribers and likes and this drives fake contents on social media.

“You Tube’s new policy of 4,000 hours watch time and 1000 subscribers before partners can make money has made people do all sorts just to meet up but the truth is that many are not even making much if anything, especially the newcomers.”

Eniola Abumere, a photographer and you tuber, believes that both traditional and social media put out not fake news, but more of sensational news because that is what most people are unfortunately interested in today.

“Sensational news is much more rife in the political space in Nigeria not so much because of what they stand to gain monetarily but more of politically. If a site puts out fake news, they lose credibility, so most blogs and sites dwell on sensationalism.”

Revealing that there is a sharing formula between blogger, vloggers and AdSense, the firm that pays partners, he says the money isn’t much and “only people that have tens of thousands of views per video or hits and clicks per story get considerable money.

Smaller account users don’t make much and this may be partly responsible for the sensationalism because the more the views, the more money you make. But how long can you thrive on sensationalism and fake contents?”

Taye Owodunni is a blogger and vlogger based in Lagos. For her, it depends on an individual to put out what they think is right. “The need for clicks and likes is driving fake news more and more everyday.

When you work hard to put up a good video and people don’t click or like, it is not encouraging and you would stop. But when you post sensational things and lies, how far will that take you? Getting more and more subscribers is the goal of having a channel but be true to yourself and post what is true and people that like it would click or watch it.”

Revealing that she makes money by posting ads for people on her YouTube channel, she added that she hasn’t made any money from YouTube because she hasn’t gotten a thousand subscribers on her four-month-old channel yet.
Sanitising Social Media Through Fact- Checking Methodology


By Shakirah Adunola
To the originators of fake news, the deliberate act of misinforming the public is tied to a particular interest, either to gain cheap publicity, create unrest in a particular area or just an act of mischief.

Reports have showed that most fake news is originated from the social media and online platforms, while very few were published in the conventional news media.

Experts that gathered at a two-day fact-checking workshop sponsored by the United State Embassy in Nigeria believed that a journalist should take extra pains of cross checking data and other information before spreading it to innocent readers.

It was indeed agreed that stopping the proliferation of fake news is not just the responsibility of the platform where it was published, but also those who are spreading and sharing on social media should also endeavour to verify the information before sharing it. Besides, the readers also need to find ways of determining if what they have read was true.

The idea is that people should have a fundamental sense of media literacy. That’s the framework for professionals, but there are ways for everyone to do a bit of fact checking themselves.

To further encourage fact checking, a non-partisan, non-profit fact-checking organisation, Africa Check, in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, recently trained 18 select mid-level journalists at a two-day fact-checking workshop.


The workshop covered a range of master classes on research skills, data journalism and fact checking. These include fact-checking key claims, to spotting Internet hoaxes and doctored images, and working with data around crime, health, education, public opinion and other topics.

The participants were specifically trained on how to fact-check claims and promises made by politicians in preparation for the general elections in Nigeria coming up in 2019.

It was deduced that the amount of misinformation that is spread on the web is overwhelming. It is spread mainly via websites, social networks, and email. The hot topics for such misinformation are politics, government policies, religion and various scams and hoaxes.

A lot of these fake and misleading stories are shared on social media platforms. You can get your fact right by using five-step fact check. It helps to know the truth and authenticity of a story. Facts can be verified, proved or demonstrated. If it can’t be, it is just a claim.

Steps to fact check a picture, video, web or story are: you must be able to identify the original source, verify the content, check for context, obtain permission from the source and set out evidence for your reader.


For picture verification you can make use of TinEye or Google reverse.

TinEye: a free extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers, an essential and easy-to-use tool for journalists in this age of Photoshop and social media.

Google reverse image search and RevEye: do a reverse search of several search engines, are also very useful for finding out if a picture has been used before and where.

Verifying the source

Location: Is the user situated in the locality of the event or passing on information from a different locality?
Account history: Check how long the account has existed (recent accounts may be opportunistic) and what kind of content the user normally shares.

Social network: With whom does the user interact on the social network? Who is sharing the content – and are they credible?

Communicate: Make direct contact with the source to verify the authenticity of the source and credibility of the information being passed on.


Verifying The Content

Crosscheck: Check the shared information against news sources to check for veracity.

Crowd-source: Verify accuracy by putting the information out on your networks asking followers to help verify information.
Find the original: Check message timestamps and go back to the original source of the information. This can also provide additional context or information.
Verifying Pictures And Video Content

Location: Check the location of the source of the information.

Crosscheck: Check the graphics against Google Street View or satellite imagery of the location to verify details. Also, check the photograph or video against news reports of the event.

Details: Ensure that the details of the picture or video clip are correct. Do the weather and scenery match those of the purported location? Do car registrations and vehicle makes match those used in the purported location?

Translate: Ensure languages and accents are in line with the purported location.

Video Verification

YouTube Data Viewer: Insert the URL of a YouTube video and this tool will give you details of the video, including when it was uploaded.


Video Vault: Use this tool to preserve videos, take screen grabs to do a reverse search, slow down and speed up video and more.

Web Page Verification

Digital Inspiration’s guide on how to find the date a web page was first published on the Internet.

Wayback Machine: View archived versions of web pages across time and capture a web page as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future

Cached View: Cached view of any page on the Internet through multiple cached sources
Website verification

Social Media

Twitter Advanced Search: For searching for people, subjects and pictures on Twitter

Storyful multi-search: Open-source software that searches multiple social networking platforms; a free Google Chrome browser extension.

Wolfram Alpha: An “answer generator” that provides a direct response to factual queries rather than a list of sources to consult for information

Crowd Tangle– See how fake news/posts are trending online.

Stakeholders List Ways To Address Growing Fake News In Nigeria

From Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja

Players in the online media space, civil society organisations and legal practitioners are worried about the growing fake news trend in Nigeria, stressing that some level of deterrent and regulations are needed to address the issue.

The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, who said fake news is growing, because of the disruption of media space both digital and traditional, insisted that there is urgent need for people to fact-check before reaching conclusion.

She said the prevailing situation is being escalated due to the frustration over the economic and general state of the country.


According to her social media is being used to prey on people’s frustrations thus some overlord, while influencers dish out fake news to an unsuspecting public to polarize the citizenry.

A legal practitioner, Abubakar Sani, said youths all over the world are impressionable, noting that while Nigeria is no exception, young minds should be counseled to use social media responsibly and not to believe everything they see, read or hear, as it could be very destructive.
An online publisher, Tunde, said people do not consciously set out to believe fake news, stressing that no rational individual wants to be lied to – or told some false information. 

“However, in the case of fake news, people tend to assume that certain news or information are true, especially when the news originates from someone or a source that has some reasonable measure of credibility,” he said.

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