Widespread low-quality news sources, ethnic and religious divisions: an analysis of the drivers propelling coordinated circulation of problematic health information in Nigeria

Mapping and studying misinformation networks via coordinated social media in Nigeria


Fabio Giglietto, University of Urbino Carlo Bo; Samuel Olaniran University of the Witwatersrand; Roberto Mincigrucci University of Perugia

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Despite the widespread global concerns on the potential detrimental effects of misinformation on democracy, the vast majority of studies still focus on Western countries. As a result, we disproportionately know more about wealthy countries characterized by lasting democratic traditions and pluralistic media systems than what we know about contexts where these institutions are yonder and more fragile. Furthermore, the research methods designed to tackle the issue are rarely designed and tested for these less studied contexts. This study contributes to filling this gap by applying to the case of Nigeria an approach to map and study networks of coordinated social media accounts and their narratives. A list of 106 falseCOVID-19 claims lead to detecting 46 coordinated networks. Beside mapping all these actors, in this paper we analyze three exemplary cases that underlines the role played by widespread low-quality information online sources, religion and ethnicity as drivers exploited to spread problematic health content in the context of larger operations aimed at influencing the public opinion in the country.

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