ABSTRACT: The research examines the role of social media in curbing the spread of Ebola virus using Facebook users who are students of University of Lagos. It is observed that in this era of Information and Communication Technology, social media especially Facebook, and Twitter have revolutionized and redefined monopoly of news and information by mass media (radio, television, newspaper and magazine industries) as it enhanced citizen participation in news gathering and dissemination. Social media has in the recent time turn the citizen not only as information consumers but also as information distributors which is now known as “Citizen Journalism”. A survey research method was adopted while questionnaire was administered as a research tool in eliciting data from the selected respondents that were selected using a quota sampling technique across faculties in Unilag. It is agreed that respondents have one way or the other either seen, post, share, twit, or comment on Ebola post. Also, larger percentage of the respondents felt the impact of social media campaign on bola prevention and controls in average extent. Majority of the respondents submitted that social media campaigns on Ebola disease have created awareness and has further reduced its spread among students of Unilag . It is recommended that Government should make sure that owners of website and blogs within the country abide to the laws of defamation, obscenity, invasion of privacy and copyright e.t.c This can be done by setting up a body whose sole responsibility is to monitor the manifest content of internet materials.
Keywords: Ebola Virus
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Ebola virus found its way into Nigeria by American-Liberian Mr. Patrick Sawyer who came from Liberia and dead with the virus in Nigeria. Sympathizers and health workers who came in contact with him suffered from the virus.
It should be recorded that majority of Nigerians knew nothing about Ebola virus or diseases until it was reported in the media that Patrick Sawyer has imported the virus to the country and couple of seconds that the news broke out it became issue of discuss on social media and blogs among Nigerians especially the ways it being contacted and believe of been very dangerous and deadly more than HIV/Virus created panic and fear among the citizens.
Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram led other social media where Ebola virus and other associated issues were been discussed. Although, many posts and twits were based on the speculations, propaganda and half information as most of the sources used were not credible enough until few days later when experts came to debunk and shed light on what Ebola virus is, how it can be contacted, how to prevent it, and treatment for ebola victims.
Osarumwense (2014) added that Handshake has become difficult to come by, hugs suddenly became scared commodities and relationships have begin to suffer as a result of the fear of Ebola. Though only fourteen cases of the virus have been reported in Lagos, the whole nation has been gripping with fear of the virus. People no longer give a friendly handshake to stranger, colleagues even friends and family relatives. Though this be seen as precautionary moves, it is clear that the under laying factor is fear. Fear for friends and strangers, fear for the society and most of all, fear for Ebola.
However, Ebola disease also called Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Ebola fever is a rare and often fatal illness that humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and gorillas) can contract. There have been several outbreaks of Ebola fever in Africa. There has never been a reported case of Ebola fever in people in the United States.
The Ebola virus causes Ebola fever. The virus is found in Africa and the Philippines but, the virus from the Philippines does not cause illness in humans. The virus was named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it was first discovered. The Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 and has appeared in sporadic outbreaks since then. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 2,265 reported cases of Ebola fever in humans around the world since 1976. Of these, 1,531 resulted in death (CDC, 2012).
The origin of communication has been traced to the ancient Homosapiens i.e. (Neanderthal man) and it has remained ubiquitous activity which enables us to relate with others anywhere. For instance, numerous studies have confirmed that an individual, in his entire life spends 75 percent of each day communicating. One of such studies cited in Akinrosoye (2004) cited in (Berlo, 1960) ) says “each of us spends 10 or 11hours a day, everyday performing verbal communication behaviour.
The emergence of social media technology in the face of developing societies has herald change of status quo within the socio, political and economic ecological setting of any society. The advent of social networks is a cyber revolution that changed the course of time. According to Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters, one of the world biggest International News agencies, He believes that the era when government of a nation would filter the news of what the people listen to, hear or read such as Ebora virus is eroding, because citizens are now part of information gathering and information dissemination.
Apart from the fact that social media has been able to break the barrier in news reportage; making people know the true nature of happenings around them, it is now being use as tool of propaganda, sensitization, insurgence and a medium of dissent. Elshout (2012) the author of the cited newspaper article says “Social networks form a good platform for organizing countervailing power by political activists and consumers”. To this end, the research is aiming to examine the role of social media in curbing the spread of Ebola virus with a focus on the information is shared on Facebook among the users.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
This research is concerned with the role of social in curbing the spread of Ebola virus a case study of Facebook. Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 and since then 2,265 reported cases of Ebola fever in humans around the world of these victims, 1,531 resulted in death killed. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2012) . In Nigeria, 56 cases have been reported of which 6 has been killed by the disease.
It is against this background the researcher is willing to examine the attitude of social media users towards the awareness of Ebola virus on Facebook and social media. Faceback.com according to Alexa website ranking on 4th, January 2014 was regarded as the most visited website with statistic of 900,000,000 per month followed by google.com, while Twitter is ranked as one of the ten-most-visited websites worldwide by Alexa’s Web Traffic Analysis.
It is recorded that at least 5 million and seven hundred and fifty thousand Nigerians are on Facebook with a good number of them being young or students. (Facebook statistics, 2014). Therefore, the major problem is that Facebook users post, comment, sharing information on Ebola virus which they know little or nothing about the credibility of its source as to add salt to bathwater which also killed some hypertensive patients in Borno state.
Social media users no little or nothing about the rule or law guiding post, comment, sharing information and so on. Another problem is that many of the users on social media expressed their opinion with little or no proper editing of the contents they are sharing. The source of major information, idea, concept being discussed through social media lack credibility and authority.
Opinion and attitudes are only formed based on the information posted on social networking sites since there is not an established gatekeepers unlike traditional mass media where the reporters, proof-readers and editors make corrections and filter before disseminated to the citizen, as citizens are now part of information gathering and dissemination.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Although, the primary objective of this study is to assess the degree of social media usage as a major source of information and spreading of knowledge on Ebola virus. The specific objectives of this study are to:
- To examine the extent which social media campaign has reduced the spread of Ebola virus disease among Facebook users in University of Lagos.
- To ascertain whether students of University of Lagos receive adequate information on Ebola virus through facebook.com.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- To what extent has social media campaign reduced the spread of Ebola virus disease among Facebook users in University of Lagos?
- Do students receive adequate information on Ebola virus through Facebook.com?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Fundamentally, it is essential we understand current usage and behaviour and identify potential problems so that they can be addressed. This can be seen in the amount of academic studies on social media within the last seven years.
However, Danah Boyd has gathered a collection of research about social net working sites that lists approximately one hundred and fifty research papers, three books, and seven research reports published in the years 2003-2010. (Boyd, 2010) None of these papers covers Africa. This shows a lack of research that concerns the African region and especially Nigeria where this form of media is greatly used.
Therefore the overall motivation for conducting this study is to contribute to research about social media in Nigeria. This research should also create a platform for further research in this field and how it affects business processes as well other spheres of life.
This research should provide useful data for market researchers, marketing and product development professionals as well as educators as to how they can maximize social media for optimum benefit in their various fields. Future researchers who many what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this materials as reference point.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study has been limited in scope to University of Lagos students, because it is very difficult if not impossible to study all students in Nigeria due to time, fund, geographical structure of Nigeria and other logistics. Yet any finding arrived at will be generalized on other higher institute of learning students in Nigeria.
1.7 OPERATOINAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
To effectively do justice to this research project, there is need to explain some of the key words:
Information Technology: IT is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data, it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones, computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, e-commerce and computer services.
Social Networking: A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.
“ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN CURBING THE SPREAD OF EBOLA VIRUS AMONG STUDENTS“
Format = MS Word, Price = ₦4000, Chapter = 1-5, Pages = 52, References = Yes, Questionnaire =Yes, Table of Contents = Yes and Abstract = Yes
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