Contribution of Social Media in the Fight Against Misinformation on Coronavirus Pandemic




1.1   Background to the Study

The recent rash of coronavirus (COVID-19)-related material has turned into a high-stakes test of social media companies’ ability to combat disinformation. False advice on how to avoid getting the virus or what steps affected individuals should take to prevent it from spreading has the potential to spread additional illness and death from a pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives across the globe. WHO(2020). It is, however, difficult to tell the difference between phony and false information. The words “fake information” and “false information” are sometimes used interchangeably. Fake news, on the other hand, is news that has been purposefully generated, while false information is faulty information that has been created either intentionally or accidentally (Addagarla, 2019). It has been noted that Facebook has dropped the phrase “fake news” in favor of “false news”1. Despite this, most academics are still divided on the distinction between “fake news” and “false news.”

On March 11, there were more than 19 million mentions of COVID-19 across social media, blogs, and online news sites globally, according to statistics from social media analytics tool Sprinklr (2020). On the same day, there were nearly 4 million mentions of US President Donald Trump. Although many of the COVID-19 references were likely from reliable sources, given the disease’s novelty and the fast-changing nature of associated news, it’s reasonable to conclude that a significant part was wrong or obsolete.

On most social media platforms, the present struggle against disinformation is mostly focused on so-called “bad actors” who purposefully propagate falsehoods and incorrect information, often for political advantage. For example, Facebook utilizes an automatic mechanism to send potentially erroneous information to third-party fact-checkers, who subsequently identify, assess, and grade the articles in order to restrict their spread. It’s a time-consuming and resource-intensive procedure, and doubts about its efficacy were raised before the coronavirus outbreak erupted on social media.

Schultze (2009) defined social media as a set of tools and online space that may be used to assist individuals and businesses meet their information and communication requirements more quickly.

Twitter and Facebook were also among the first places where correct COVID-19 information could be found. However, since ordinary people, celebrities, politicians, and others use social media to discuss their coronavirus experiences, voice complaints, and just pass the time while self-isolating, vital health and safety information is quickly lost. Many users may be well-intentioned yet inexperienced, and they may unwittingly transmit false information.

As a consequence, social media sites have taken extraordinary efforts to combat disinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook has supplied the World Health Organization (WHO) with as many free advertising as they need, as well as blocking ads from companies that may be taking advantage of the situation by saying that their goods can, for example, treat the virus. In addition, more fact-checking has been implemented, as well as a pop-up that leads people searching for coronavirus to the WHO’s website or a local health authority. Users may also go to local health authority websites, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

The main social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as Google and Microsoft, released an unified statement declaring their collaboration to combat COVID-19-related disinformation. We’re keeping millions of people connected while simultaneously fighting fraud and spreading disinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative material on our platforms, and delivering crucial updates in collaboration with government healthcare agencies throughout the globe.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

The purpose of social media is to meet society’s information demands. However, the main issue is that the majority of information is not from a trusted source or is not believable. In keeping with the press’s social responsibility duty. According to Onabajo (2002), the majority of today’s debates are sparked by broadcast media. Most social media users are more concerned with entertainment than with news from the country, which has resulted in cultural imperialism affecting the nation as the usage of smart phones affects our view of how we think, act, and behave in our separate lifestyles in Nigeria.

This indicates that a large number of individuals read and watch news they don’t believe. Because news information is obtained from people who are untrustworthy, anybody may broadcast news information at any moment. Because stated levels of confidence in the media are low, it’s understandable that some individuals may watch news they claim they don’t believe while attempting to filter out information, resulting in them being labeled as prejudiced or untrustworthy.

1.3   Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of the study is to examine the contribution of social media in the fight against misinformation on coronavirus pandemic. Specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To examine the major social media platforms used to curb the spread of fake information of COVID19.
  2. To analyse the various misinformation on COVID19 spread in the internet.

iii.  To recommend the best way to stop the spread of fake information on covid19.

  1. To examine the contribution of social media in the fight against fake information on covid19 in Nigeria.

1.4   Research Questions

  1. What are the major social media platforms used to curb the spread of fake information of COVID19?
  2. What are the various misinformation on COVID19  spread in the internet?

iii.  What are the  best way to stop the spread of fake information on covid19?

  1. What is the contribution of social media in the fight against fake information on covid19 in Nigeria?

1.5   Significance of Study

The study is of immense benefit in regulating, the use of social Media and the Mode of new Age communication, in regularizing the use of social media and its effect on the Masses.

The study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature on misinformation.

1.6       Scope Of The Study

This study will  examine the major social media platforms used to curb the spread of fake information of COVID19. The study  will also analyse the various misinformation on COVID19 spread in the internet. The study will further  recommend the best way to stop the spread of fake information on covid19. and lastly, the study will  examine the contribution of social media in the fight against fake information on covid19 in Nigeria. Hence the study will be delimited to twitter users in Lagos state.

1.7       Delimitation Of The Study

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8       Definition Of Terms

Social media: websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Misinformation:  false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive

Coronavirus:   any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological diseases in humans and other animals.



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