- Two reports have revealed that fake news is being spread on WhatsApp, as the 2019 general elections approach
- One of the reports also found that stories that turned out to be fake had been shared by almost a third of Nigerians
- WhatsApp has stated that it will be stepping up education on how users can spot hoaxes and rumours
Two new reports have raised concerns over the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, as they disclosed that fake news is being spread on WhatsApp.
According to cnet.com, quoting a report from The Poynter Institute, photoshopped images and false claims about politicians have been circulating on the Facebook-owned messaging service in Nigeria.
Legit.ng gathers that the report stated that many of these false claims exploit ethnic friction as they are in local languages.
One of such false claims includes a rumour that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, cannot enter the US due to corruption charges. Another reportedly focuses on how politicians will address the herdsmen-farmers clashes.
A survey by Nieman Journalism Lab has also found that stories that turned out to be fake had been shared by almost a third of Nigerians.
The survey also found that Nigerians have the lowest level of trust in the media of the three countries covered in the report, which included Kenya and South Africa.
According to Nieman, fake news often involves extreme speech aimed at inciting violence, spreading racism or encouraging misogyny and xenophobia; and is usually circulated on mobile platforms such as WhatsApp.
In a statement, a Whatsapp spokesman stated: "WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users around the world. We've made a number of recent changes to WhatsApp to limit the spread of viral rumors – including placing a label on forwarded messages and limiting how they can be sent on WhatsApp.
"We recently helped bring CrossCheck onto WhatsApp to help fact check rumors in Nigeria and in the run-up to the election, we'll be stepping up education on how users can spot hoaxes and rumors."
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that an administrator and members of a WhatsApp group were arrested by the Kano state Police Command for allegedly circulating fake news and an image of a married woman whom they claimed was trafficking children in the city.
The spokesperson for the command, Magaji Musa Maaji, disclosed that the suspects were arrested and paraded after the victim of the circulated image lodged a formal complaint.
Maaji said the fake reports about the victim was spread with the intent to incite the public against her.
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