, 32 tweets, 82 min read Read on Twitter
#HappeningNow: Roundtable: The role of #WhatsApp in Nigerian elections, #NigeriaDecides2019.

Research: The use and abuse of @WhatsApp in an African #election: #Nigeria2019.

WhatsApp both strengthens and undermines Nigerian democracy, says UK-Nigeria research team.

@jchitchen
@WhatsApp @jchitchen @africanews @allafrica @thecableng @PremiumTimesng @MobilePunch @THISDAYLIVE @KogiFacts @factcheckdotorg @FactCheck @facebook @SituationRoomNg @Afrikareport @SaharaReporters @HEDAgenda @ReutersAfrica @julietkego @DrJoeAbah @JibrinIbrahim17 @EiENigeria Drawing on citizen surveys & interviews with political campaigns, the report underlines the ways in which WhatsApp has promoted the spread of “#fakenews” around elections, but has also strengthened accountability and promoted inclusion in other areas.
#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
@WhatsApp @jchitchen @africanews @allafrica @thecableng @PremiumTimesng @MobilePunch @THISDAYLIVE @KogiFacts @factcheckdotorg @FactCheck @facebook @SituationRoomNg @Afrikareport @SaharaReporters @HEDAgenda @ReutersAfrica @julietkego @DrJoeAbah @JibrinIbrahim17 @EiENigeria At the Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday 29 July, researchers from the CDD (Nigeria) & University of Birmingham (UK) presented key findings from a @WhatsApp-sponsored research project on the role of #WhatsApp in #Nigeria’s 2019 #elections.

@HassanIdayat
By setting up multiple overlapping #WhatsApp groups, organ. such as the Buhari New Media Centre (BNMC) & Atikulated Youth Force (AYF) – set up to support, respectively...

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
@cleenfoundation
@oaaigbe
@OakTVOnline
@YIAGA
@nytimes
@TheICIR
@USIP
The campaigns of President Buhari and his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar – can send messages to tens of thousands of people at the touch of a button by forming hundreds of groups of 256 members.

#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
@Juliette_Ugwu
@legitngnews
@HQNigerianArmy
Things look very different below the national level, however, where a significant proportion of activity remains informal. This limits the ability of formal structures like parties to set & control narratives at the local level. Dr Fisher says that:

#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
“Our research shows that while WhatsApp replicates existing political patron-client networks to some extent, it is also helping less traditional power-players to enter the political arena – particularly tech-savvy youth.”
#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
@ForeignPolicy
@kunleperfect
2. Content: Different types of content shared via WhatsApp have varying impacts depending on who they have been shared by, and how they are presented to the user. @HassanIdayat says that:

#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
@SaharaReporters
@SituationRoomNg
@ECOWASParliamnt
“The format, style, source and the content of a piece of information shared or received on WhatsApp all have a critical impact on how far they reach, and how far they are believed...pictures and videos are increasingly influential.”

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
@WSJ
3. Networks: Offline & online structures are interlinked, reinforcing & building on each other in ways that are important to understand.

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As a result, in many respects WhatsApp amplifies the significance and influence of networks that already exist within Nigerian politics and society. Jamie Hitchen says that:

#FakeNewsMedia
#stopfakenews
@HenshawKate
@jchitchen
@HassanIdayat
@TheICIR
“The interaction between information shared on @WhatsApp and the offline context is a crucial part of the digital eco-system, and challenges claims that the platform has revolutionised political campaigning.”

#FakeNewsMedia
#stopfakenews
“The interaction between information shared on WhatsApp and the offline context is a crucial part of the digital eco-system, and challenges claims that the platform has revolutionised political campaigning.”

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
4. Impact: #WhatsApp is used to both spread disinformation & to counter it. One of the most notorious messages of the election – the false story that President Buhari had died & been replaced by a clone from Sudan – was widely circulated on #WhatsApp.

#StopFakeNews
#StopFakeNews
But candidates also used #WhatsApp to alert citizens to false stories and to “set the record straight”. Professor Cheeseman says that:

#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
#FakeNewsNoMore
Social media platforms are both a threat to democracy and a way to strengthen it. WhatsApp is being used to spread “fake news” on the one hand, and run fact-checking campaigns and election observation on the other.

#FakeNewsMedia
#stopfakenews
The research also underlines that, particularly at the sub-national level, while #WhatsApp gives candidates an electoral advantage, social media alone cannot win an #election.

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
#FakeNewsMedia
Instead, the most important thing for a candidate is to be an authentic leader of the community – to be present & accessible. This means that a candidate’s ground campaign remains the most important thing to get right.

#FakeNewsMedia
#stopfakenews
@obyezeks
@inecnigeria
Thus, while #WhatsApp has transformed the electoral environment, it has not revolutionized it.

#stopfakenews
#FakeNews
@julietkego
@KDI_ng
The research findings suggest both short- and longer-term recommendations:

#stopfakenews
#FakeNewsMedia
In the short-term, making it easier for individuals to leave WhatsApp groups and report disinformation; reinforce the ability of group administrators to set standards;

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
target digital literacy training to social influencers and strengthen WhatsApp’s ability to understand the risk of misuse by opening an office in the African continent.

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
In the longer-term, state and federal governments should invest more in digital literacy as part of the national curriculum, while political campaigns should develop social media codes of conduct for future elections.

#FakeNewsMedia
#StopFakeNews
@AishaYesufu
@YesProjectNg
Further information:
•Media Manager (University of Birmingham): Hasan Salim Patel
Email: h.s.patel@bham.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 121 415 8134 / +44(0)7580 744943
•Nigeria Contact (Centre for Democracy and Development): Idayat Hassan
Email: ihassan@cddwestafrica.org
Telephone/WhatsApp: +234 (0) 703 369 0566
•UK Contact (University of Birmingham): Dr Jonathan Fisher
Email: j.fisher@bham.ac.uk
Telephone/WhatsApp: +44 (0) 7894 452 788
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