The world of fake news is very different in Nigeria, where misinformation is a weapon, and businesses can be ruined overnight by false charges and stories planted by actors with ulterior motives. Here, there really is a well-organised cabal that aims to sabotage brands, perform character assassination on politicians and public figures, and mislead the public at large.
It doesn’t help that there are also enormous numbers of people who are highly influential on social media, and they can have an outsized impact on how certain politicians and companies are perceived. When you add in the proliferation of newspapers, blogs, and websites, it is easy to see how quickly fake news can spread throughout the country, and how difficult it is to set the record straight once that nefarious misinformation gains a foothold.
All of these factors make it particularly easy for anyone with an agenda or grudge against a certain brand to deploy fake news to sabotage the company involved. And this kind of sabotage and weaponisation of fake news is not confined to businesses; politicians, celebrities, and public figures have also been targeted in this way.
What makes this especially problematic is that the delineation of what is fake news and what isn’t can become murky; this is due to the fact that false stories are still a relatively small part of the overall news media landscape. For the most part, what readers see when they open the newspaper or click on their favourite news-related website is mostly true. The details may be shaded and there may be some unconscious bias, but the facts are generally accurate as presented.
So what can you do about it to protect yourself? Read the news with caution, be a sceptical consumer of news, and learn to separate the actual falsehoods from unfounded charges of fake news.