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Money and tech scams dominate fake news items in Kenya: BBC study

BBC Regional Editor Solomon Mugera says the study also revealed that social media users can be lured to breaking the story first before confirming if a story is true.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – A study on fake news by the BBC has revealed that a third of fake news stories in Kenya relates to money and technology scams.

The study, which covered Kenya and Nigeria, showed that fake news travels faster if it is linked to the anxieties and aspirations of a nation.

In Nigeria, stories relating to terrorism and the army are widely shared.

In both countries, WhatsApp is seen as the most used platform to disseminate fake news.

However, the study revealed that there is a high awareness of fake news and its consequences.

“People have a number of cues they look to for verification and recognise the responsibility and potential harm in sharing fake stories,” notes the report.

The study also showed people are sharing potentially untrue stories about important issues, in particular health, as they feel duty bound to share news just in case it is true.

“At the heart of this research is the question of why ordinary people are sharing fake news, even while they claim to be worried about the way fake stories spread,” said Dr Santanu Chakrabarti, Head of Audience Research, BBC World Service.

The research is at the centre of BBC’s #BeyondFakeNews season – a new international anti-disinformation initiative which has just launched.

It is the first published BBC study analysing the spread of fake news from the perspective of members of the public and using unprecedented access to their personal mobiles and chat apps.

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