AUDIENCE CONSUMPTION PATTERNS OF FAKE NEWS, MOTIVATIONS AND USE: A STUDY OF CIVIL SERVANTS IN AWKA CITY

Chioma Rosemary Okoye, Ifeoma Vivian Dunu, Uchenna Patricia Ekwugha

Abstract


This study examined the reception, patterns of consumption and motivations for consumption of fake news among state civil servants in Awka city. The study is anchored on the reception theory, and adopted both the quantitative and qualitative methods comprising the survey and Focus Group Discussion. For the survey, a total of 386 randomly selected state civil servants in Awka city, who have been found to be avid consumers of news, were studied and twelve (12) of them who are more consumers of news participated in the FGD. Findings revealed that majority of the respondents who agreed that they were exposed to fake news indicated that social media was the media, most likely to contain fake news. Also, the respondents that have been exposed to fake news indicated that news is fake when it is inconsistent with information from other sources, riddled with inconsistencies, and emanating from unverifiable news sources. Results also showed that majority of the respondents pay attention to fake news, and that the major motivations for consuming fake news was to get and disseminate information that people would need (sense of civic duty/care) as well as fun/entertainment. This study confirmed that social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp enable fake news originators to deliberately spread falsehood with malicious intentions. The study also discovered that most of the participants, especially the more educated and elderly ones, often identify fake news using criteria such as exaggeration, poor editing, poor structure and the nature of the source. Based on these findings, the study recommends that the government and other relevant non-governmental organizations should organize sensitization campaigns that would educate individuals on how to identify fake news and the need to desist from sharing it.


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