The Impact of Social Media on Covid-19 Information Dissemination
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over time, social media has evolved into an active technical tool as well as a news and communication medium for Nigerian citizens. Access to mobile telephony, particularly among digitally aware adolescents, has made information distribution as simple as snapping a finger. As the epidemic has encroached on and emasculated global activities, social media platforms have been used as a source of information for individuals. Its importance has grown as a result of the government’s implementation of a lockdown strategy to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. As a result, it has evolved into an active instrument for engagement and communication, disseminating both reasonable and incredulous (mis)information. Social media sites are interactive networks that information and communication technologies (ICTs) bestow on modern society via the use of the Internet and telecommunications devices. The Internet allows for the expansion of networks and the expansion of communication opportunities with a global audience. The new media’s participatory atmosphere has given them an unparalleled level of appeal. In addition, the prevalence of social networking sites within such a short period of time is unprecedented in the history of the media business. Awake (2011) adds to this by stating that “social networking has grown enormously popular.” In Nigeria, social networking sites are rapidly gaining popularity as a form of both interpersonal and public communication. People connect to one another, exchange ideas, experiences, photographs, messages, and information of interest through social networking sites, which are modern interactive communication channels. According to (Adebowale, 2020), “Web-based services that allow users to establish a public or semi-public profile within a constrained system, create a list of other users with whom they have a connection, and browse and navigate their list of connections as well as those created by others in the system”.
On social media, users can maintain social ties by accessing, visiting, and sharing their lists of social connections with other members on social media sites, which are profile-based websites. They are online discussion forums, chat rooms, community-based personal web pages, and other social media spaces where users may trade personal information and communicate with one another. Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and MySpace are just a few examples. Messaging, talking, blogging, uploading and sharing movies and images, and other tools and services are available on social networking platforms.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an infectious illness that causes respiratory infections ranging from a simple cold to more serious respiratory problems. It began in December 2019 at the Hunan seafood market in Wuhan, China, where live bats, snakes, raccoon dogs, and other wild creatures were sold (Babatunde, 2020), and the World Health Organization designated it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. (WHO, 2020). The virus is claimed to have caused numerous deaths since its discovery, as well as a growing number of positive cases every day (WHO, 2020). The virus claimed its first victim in Nigeria on February 25, 2020, when an Italian man landed in the nation. After developing symptoms of the illness, he was brought to an Isolation Centre in Yaba, Lagos (NCDC 2020). As a result, the number of instances grew. This data, news and misinformation was spread and magnified with the help of social media.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over time, social networking services have evolved from niches with a small number of members to phenomena with billions of users. According to Adebowale, (2020), the rise in popularity of social networking sites has prompted questions from school officials, communication experts, and socio-psychological researchers about the benefits and risks that undergraduates may face as they use online social networking to meet their social and information needs rather than oral or face-to-face communication.
The covid-19 pandemic has brought to fore the pros and cons of social media. False news, misinformation and disinformation of and about the covid-19 has been spread through social media. This is a very worrisome trend as efforts to control, filter and remove false news about the pandemic in social media has proved abortive or unyielding (Babatunde, 2020).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of social media on covid-19 information dissemination. Other specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the extent social media was used in news dissemination during the pandemic.
- To examine the benefits of using social media in news dissemination during the pandemic
iii. To examine the extent of false news dissemination about covid-19 on social media during the pandemic.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- To what extent was social media used in news dissemination during the pandemic?
- What are the benefits of using social media in news dissemination during the pandemic?
iii. To what extent was false news about covid-19 disseminated on social media during the pandemic?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study on the impact of social media on covid-19 information dissemination will in no doubt serve as a relevant material to all individuals, organizations and the Governments as it reveals the power of social media in getting information across nations of the world and can be used as a tool to promote and circulate business or no business ideas. This study will also assist other researchers who may for one reason or the other carryout research on topics related the one under study.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will be focused on the impact of social media on covid-19 information dissemination. It will also focus on examining the extent social media was used in news dissemination during the pandemic, examining the benefits of using social media in news dissemination during the pandemic and examining the extent of false news dissemination about covid-19 on social media during the pandemic. This study will be using staff of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation(AKBC) as enrolled participants for the survey.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Like all human endeavours, this research work was not without some factors that tended to jeopardize the smooth completion of the study. One of the factors is on the fact that the period of time allowed for this work was short that the researcher did not have enough time to do a thorough job.
Also the researcher in the course of data collection, had to put in extra effort to interpreting interviews schedule of the respondents, some who fall within the in comprehensible age limit. Additionally, there were financial and transit constraints.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Social Media: Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities.
Dissemination: This is the act or process of disseminating – distributing, spreading, broadcasting, or dispersing widely. The word is especially used in reference to the distribution of information, or things that contain information, like files and documents.
Covid-19: COVID 19 is an illness caused by a new virus that is spreading rapidly across the world. It can affect your breathing system – your lungs and airways. It can be spread from person to person through germs that end up on the hands and on surfaces when infected persons are coughing or sneezing.
Adebowale, O. (2020). The Nigerian victory against the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 1897 epidemic. Guardian Nigerian Newspaper.
Adelaku, A. (2020). No god is punishing us with Covid-19. Punch Newspaper. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://punchng.com/no-god-is-punishing-us-with-covid-19/
Babatunde, A. (2020) Nigeria:COVID-19-LagosHospitals treat people suffering chloroquine poisoning-official. Premium Times Newspaper.
Ogundipe, S. (2020). COVID-19: Stop Indiscriminate Consumption of Chloroquine-ACPN. Vanguard Newspaper. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/03/covid-19-stop-indiscriminate-consumption-of-chloroquine-acpn/