How Distrust of Young Nigerian Political Leaders Facilitates False Information on COVID

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Since the World Health Organization declaration COVID-19 The January 2020 Global Public Health Emergency needed research to help explain what people understand through public health messages.

Studying the nuances of communication about conspiracy theories and misunderstanding rumors is especially important. Pandemic It is in circulation. Incorrect information can be dangerous.

In the early days of the pandemic, Appeared That Young people (Teen, 20s, 30s) The risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 or becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 was low.Still number Young adult Infected rise..

Measures to control the spread of the virus, such as physical distance and hand hygiene, are also challenges for low-income communities around the world. Therefore, the inhabitants of such communities appeared to be a group at risk.

I felt it was important study How young adults in the low-income community of Nigeria perceived news and messages about pandemics. Hearing their reaction is important because it can counter false information and help prevent a pandemic.

In Nigeria, with a public health campaign Precautions appear It played a role in reducing the increase in new infections.But the study We also report that there are misunderstandings and false alarms about COVID-19.

Social media as a priority

I enrolled 11 young adults aged 21-24 years in Ajegunle, a low-income community in Lagos, the commercial center of Nigeria. Focus group discussions and individual interviews were held in March and April 2020 with the aim of providing detailed qualitative information and insights.

Respondents’ education levels ranged from high school certificates to college diplomas. At the time of the survey, they said they had some form of paid employment, but that did not meet their basic needs.

Their thoughts on COVID-19, where and how they got the latest information and news articles about the pandemic, what they shared and discussed, and the function of government agencies to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Asked about their thoughts on.

The findings show that: Social media The platform is central to the way young people understand COVID-19 news and messages. They all mentioned Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp as the main sources of information about pandemics. They obtained and shared both reliable and unreliable information from them. Social media platform..

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, social media was an integral part of the daily activities of these young adults. Therefore, it was natural to look at these platforms to understand the pandemic.This matches the study This emphasizes the widespread use of social media among young people in Nigeria.

Survey participants also obtained some information from traditional media (print and broadcast), but often accessed the information on these mainstream social media channels.

Despite their dissatisfaction with their financial challenges, they prioritized the ability to always receive communication through social media accounts. This is despite the fact that network and internet subscription plans are expensive for them.

Distrust, skepticism, and misinformation sharing

The discussion revealed various levels of skepticism and distrust of the respondents’ COVID-19 reality. Some called the pandemic “propaganda” and the government’s response “stupid,” “hype,” and “stupid charade.” They argued that the blockade was an unnecessary and exaggerated reaction.

Respondents said the blockade had reduced their income or lost their jobs. Some have said that even if COVID-19 is genuine, hunger is far more realistic and deadly to them.

During the discussion, respondents downplayed various media reports and the seriousness of the pandemic by government officials.

Their skepticism and distrust turned out to be the result of their long-standing distrust of the owners of the politicians who communicated and enforced the decision to fight the pandemic.

Participants experienced social inequality and alienation every day before and during the blockade. Over the years, they have seen governments continue to ignore their communities. They found it difficult to fully accept that public officials suddenly became interested in their welfare. Or that a complete blockade that kept them hungry for weeks was their greatest benefit.

Respondents said they regularly discuss COVID-19 physically and virtually through social media platforms. Here is an example: “You can’t worry about this COVID scam, which these politicians cleverly packaged to deceive and manipulate people, as I told my friends when chatting online today … they are ours. I’m just playing with intelligence, they always do, and I told my guys not to believe in scams through my Whatsapp story and Facebook timeline … I’m news from the Tribune page I said the same thing on Facebook while sharing the story. “

Through their online postings, status updates, and other forms of social media involvement or action, they regularly communicated their awareness and understanding of the pandemic.

This probably has consequences.False information can be amplified throughout society media Because of the lack of people’s trust in those who are leading the effort to fight the pandemic.


The findings show how information can be interpreted in the context of an individual’s socio-economic reality and experience. People who feel marginalized tend to disbelieve, ignore, or refuse to participate in efforts aimed at combating untrustworthy political leaders if they are leading the effort. The more such people speak out about their stance, the more false information tends to flourish.

That is one of the reasons why consistent efforts to deepen democratic values ​​and institutions should be encouraged. The more this happens, the more trust can be established between citizens and political leaders.

With trust, political leaders can rely on citizens to cooperate in public health measures.

Fake News and Fact Checks: Surveys are investigating the use of social media during pandemics

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How Distrust of Young Nigerian Political Leaders Facilitates False Information on COVID

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