Beware of Fake Bloggers!
We have all grown to believe that news is backed by the facts. However, the way we now access news and information has exposed us to the greater chances of being misinformed more than ever!
With the current level of access to the internet and opportunities for citizen journalism, there is much to be desired in respect to the quality of information we are fed...enter the fake bloggers.
Research indicates that about 60% of local internet users get their news on social media, already known for varied false statements with suspicious scales of legitimacy.
A few years back, Google was very keen on encouraging local African especially Nigerian content. I bet they would be greatly disappointed now
Many seminars and training scams were and are still being held about how profitable blogging as a business is. Trust my guys and gals, there was an avalanche of blogging sites disguised as news sites. Every Tope, Daudu and Chidi became online publishers.
I fully agree that no single organisation or group has monopoly of truth, but must we peddle falsehood with wanton abandonment?
Our timelines and newsfeeds demonstrate the different ways social media users are presented with information – and there's no shortage of misinformation being spread far and wide. Thanks to our 'likes and 'shares' without reading and evaluating the content. This is a clear case of presenting truth or falsehood in very different ways to each individual and his network of followers and friends. The internet no doubt is an open door to a whole world of information, but the lines between truth and falsehood are getting thinner by the day.
Fake or misrepresentative news is nothing new – from newspapers with heavy political leanings to online jobbers who are paid to libel, slander or embarrass perceived enemies churning out 'news' backed with little or no facts. 'Them say' according to local parlance is more legitimate as you are still likely to get the source of information with a little prodding or investigation.
Misinformation has been taken to a new level on social media. Here are some examples in a whole sea of ill-informed stories and outright lies. I will be surprised if you have not received them yourself.
Last year, two ladies from a West African country who worked in a meat packing company in South Africa were posted on facebook with chunks of meat wrapped around their waist. Surprisingly, this year the same picture was posted by some unpatriotic Nigerians, but this time claiming the ladies were Nigerians. The comments the post attracted from Nigerians who believed every line of the post was baffling. After all, 'seeing is believing' as the saying goes.
Remember the picture of cows on a pedestrian foot bridge in India? In the heat of the grazing land and Fulani cattle rearers' controversy, it was posted as cows on a pedestrian foot bridge in Lagos with Indian pedestrians looking on! What a shame, what an insult to our intelligence.
This morning, I was woken up by a Ghanaian friend who wanted to confirm if Blessing Okagbare actually won the 100 metres Olympic Gold Medal! Out of curiousity I decided to check the source only to discover that Naijapals.com published that Blessing Okagbare won the Gold medal at the Olympics with a world record time of 9.58 seconds. Lies... It was shared from a post on gistmania .com website. Blessing did not qualify for the finals as she came third in her semi final with a time of 11.09seconds! Can you imagine ?
What about the Aisha Buhari pictures? How can someone spend time retouching pictures to be posted as 'evidence' on social media.
Fake news appeal to our emotions with an air of legitimacy
Making anything go viral is not easy, but there are certainly some things that fake news stories have in common that make them successful. Firstly, they're never boring.
Sensational headlines and nerve-touching statements relevant to the places and people we hold dear, the things that we hate or fear incredibly generate emotionally charged reactions from readers who don't even realise they're fake.
We love storytelling, and if it's something current and looks like a big story we can be overcome with the need to share it.
There's an air of legitimacy
Sensible people don't normally share things that are obviously fake. Seeing that thousands of people have already liked or shared a post or most of your friends sharing the story on your feed makes you believe it, even traditional news organizations are guilty of using unconfirmed details in their content .
Imagine if the internet was filled with only Naija style rumours as content and you were researching a topic...what would be the result? Pure thrash to say the least.
It is high time that the promoters of blogging as a business call their protégés to order. Apart from possible law suits, this practice has drastically affected the rating of content from Africa, unfortunately, we are blessed with the highest number of fake bloggers!
Babatunde Fashola just won the gold medal in the Javelin event at the Olympic Games. In an interview with him after the spectacular throw, he said...Read, evaluate and confirm before you share. So much for falsehood.
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »