Abstract: The study investigated the effect of fake news in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. However, the study focused on the Institute of Management and Technology and Caritas University, Enugu. It is not an over emphasized that fake news has affected the social-political nature of this country and many developing nations at large because it did not only robbed the mainstream media its integrity, trust and reliability but also ruin the business of information gathering. The study is anchored on Social Responsible Theory and Technology Determinism Theory. Survey research method was employed while questionnaire was used as data collection instrument. Taro Yamani Formula was used to determine sample size of 380. The data collected were analysis using frequency and percentage table. The findings of the study show that majority of respondents hate fake news, follow by respondents who opined that fake news is an abuse of freedom of expression while majority of them agree that Facebook and Whatsapp are often used by students to spread fake news. Larger number of the respondents (66.7%) observed that fake news is often spread on both social and conventional media. Although, many of the respondents (66.7%) agree that fake news often spread through social media as majority of the respondents (61.1%) noted that there is high prevalent of fake news in Tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Substantial number of the respondents (36.7%) agreed that ethnicity and religion affiliation bring about the spread of fake news. Many of them noted that to identify the originality in stories is to compare other sources and to observe what other people are saying about stories as majority of the respondent said the right thing to do when spot fake news is to correct the information out rightly. It is recommended that member of the public should possess media literacy skill to be able to think critically about the information they consume.
Keywords: Fake News
1.1 Background to the Study
Technological advancement in contemporary society of the 21st century heralded the arrival of information and communication technologies (ICT) that has enhanced the existing communication process and the entire material in which individual interact with the world. The ICTS expanded the frontier of communication channels referred to as new media have giving room for lots of news in circulation. These ICT driven communication channels include online information services, cable television, the internet and World Wide Web, among others. The new media have expanded the horizon of communication and made the world smaller and communication process more rapid.
World news these days does not only hold its relevance to traditional newspapers or news channels but has been spread widely through the growing dominance of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn. The verification of information or news shared via these platforms has been neglected hence an increase in false information has grown drastically via this medium of communication and interaction.
Oberiri & Bahiyah (2020) write that the explosive growth of fake news, driven by the social media trend, demands investigation and intervention. While fake news is not a new phenomenon, it has received much attention at the present time because of the popularity of social media for interaction and for the diffusion of news and ideas. Social media is the “lifeblood of fake news” because it permits anyone to share a viral fake story to people at a low cost (Oberiri & Bahiyah, 2020) cited in (Warner-Soderholm et al., 2018; Klein & Wueller, 2017).
The “concern about the spread of fake news focuses on both the ubiquity of social media and the easy circulation of information that social media platforms afford due to their technical affordances” (Allcott & Gentzkow, 2017). Social media platform incentivizes the dissemination of problematic news content and permits its circulation in a novel perplexing manner and the rapid it with which news content moves within social media causes fake news to swiftly spread unverified, making it hard to correct. Hence, the rise of fake news has become a global concern.
Although, the problem is universal, fake news spreading is often drawn by local issues and contextual situations. What motivates people to share news or fake news, for example, may come from cultural attributes that are not necessarily captured by motivation typology deduced from the vast majority of Western-centric research. The impacts of fake news spreading through society may be varied in many ways from other communities as well. Acknowledging the locality of this global problem, it is important to examine fake news proliferation at the micro-level.
Fake news has become an alarming issue in our day and age. Fake news is simply the deliberate misrepresentation of information or the complete falsification of information spread to the public. “Fake News has reached an epidemic proportion and social media, particularly, Giving credence to the report by BBC that fake news has aggravated the farmer-Fulani herdsmen conflict in Nigeria, attention here is drawn to the bloody picture of a dead five-year-old school boy with wide matchet cuts all over his head and neck, claimed to have been a victim of the Fulani herdsmen attack in Ogun State.
As it circulated with several sympathetic comments causing traffic on the social media, particularly as he was supposed to have been gruesomely murdered, another report emerged that he was actually killed by a mad man, not the herdsmen. Fake news is necessary for forecasting revenue and post-truth politics for media outlets because they spend much time commenting on its components, thereby attracting viewers to their websites, a great ploy to broaden participation, viewership, and discourse and generate broadcast and online advertising revenue (BBC News, 2019).
Fake news has caused problems with people being killed due to political hostility which promotes the degrading and shaming of political members. Cross Check Nigeria which is a platform that cross-checks if each news, photo or video is authentic recently discredited allegations that Nigeria’s first lady wanted fellow Nigeria’s to vote against her husband the President. Also, allegations that President Trump was supporting the opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar which was also discredited.
Nigeria’s election has always caused political turmoil, but its current election is mostly promoted through a WhatsApp wave which allows stories, messages, videos to be shared among people. Some of the fake news spread on social media includes, Ebola ‘cure’ kills two as research findings showed that during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, a fake text message claiming people could avoid catching the disease by bathing in and drinking large quantities of saltwater went viral on social media even though there was no medical basis for it.
“Please ensure that you and your family and all your neighbors’ bathe with hot water and salt before daybreak today because of Ebola virus which is spreading through the air”
Another fake new was in 2017, the Nigerian Army had just begun a free medical service of administering polio vaccination as part of its military operations in south-eastern Nigeria. Then rumors began to circulate that the army was going to schools to inject pupils with the monkey pox virus. The rumors caused a massive panic that led to the closure of some schools. Students hurriedly left their schools and worried parents came to pick up their wards (Okoro et al., 2018).
Thus, the free medical service interrupted by the fake news circulation intensified the cases of polio in the country rather than reducing and curtailing it. The rationale for the spread of such fake news could be to diminish the efforts of the government in tackling health issues in the country as well as disrupt the peace and unity that Nigeria has been trying to attain. Also, President Muhammadu death in 2017 and his marriage saga in 2019 was spread on social media which was a major instance of fake news that dominated Nigeria’s social media space, it was rumored that President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after he began a health leave to the United Kingdom on January 19.
Many Nigerians shared and re-shared on social media that the President was dead and cloned or replaced by a Sudanese called “Jubril,” causing an uproar and confusion among many people. This fake news made many to lose faith in the Nigerian government. It is against study that this study investigates the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis with a focus on Enugu East has been limited to Institute of Management and Technology and Caritas University both in Enugu East.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The study will examine the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis with a focus on Enugu East. Due to lack of professionalism which most students, do not attain, has led to rise of fake news, in disseminating information through social media platforms, as they fail to consider the ethics of journalism the sense of social responsibility. Therefore, most students are not trained to subscribe to the traditional journalistic standards of objectivity, fairness, and accuracy found in disseminating news this has led to the high rate of fake news
It is against study that this study investigates the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis with a focus on Enugu East has been limited to Institute of Management and Technology and Caritas University both in Enugu East.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The primary objective of this study is to examine the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis. The study is aimed at achieving the following objectives;
- To examine the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis.
- To examine the rate of the spread of fake news among Nigerians students..
1.4 Research questions
Here, certain questions are raised; the provision of answers to them will provide answer to the study. The questions, which are interdependent, include the following ones:
- To what extent have fake news affect students of tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis?
- What is the rate of the spread of fake news among Nigerians students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of benefits and interest not only to the students but the public, journalists, government in Nigeria, but it will be valuable to other service sectors in Nigeria as a whole.
The outcome of this study will alert government, civil society organisations (CSOs) and all other pro-democratic groups on the need to enact strategies and mechanism for combating fake news in order to ensure quality journalism and a responsible expression by all.
Academically, this research work will therefore advance knowledge. The academic community will use this work as a reference point and in the execution of similar studies. Again, journalists, editors, specialized groups, society, government etc. stand to gain immensely from the study. For the journalists, it provides them an ample opportunity to press for national development and enthronement of transparency in government. The government, through this study could harness the latent potency of the law as educated in it towards providing quality service to its citizens. In the same vein, the study is significant as it provide a platform for government press collaboration which if harnessed, can facilitate national development.
The result of the study will also provide a framework for media practitioners that will enable them exercise a good information sharing behaviour basically for the fact that the success of every democracy rest on the media.
It will also provide an insight for students to understand the effect of fake news not only on academic spheres but also on the democracy of the country. Furthermore, the outcome of the study will make available ready materials for policymakers towards censoring falsehood in both new and conventional media industry so that citizens can express their opinions responsibly for the greater good of democracy.
1.7 Scope of the study
The study which investigates the effect of fake news in tertiary institution in Enugu metropolis with a focus on Enugu East shall be narrowed in scope to Institute of Management and Technology and Caritas University both in Enugu East. Thus, the geographical scope of this study will be within Enugu state. The choice of tertiary institutions in Enugu state was due to the proximity to the researcher, inadequate time to study all tertiary institutions in Nigeria among other logistics. Also, the demographic factors of the respondents will carefully study before the administration of research instrument such factors includes: age, gender, academic level e.t.c.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Effect: This is the impact or contributions of fake news in higher institution.
Fake news: is untrue information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.
Tertiary Institution: This refers to all higher learning of institutions such as Polytechnics, universities.