Synthesis produced by the Fondation Descartes of the following research paper:
Oberiri Destiny Apuke, Bahiyah Omar, Fake news and COVID-19: modelling the predictors of fake news sharing among social media users, Telematics and Informatics, Volume 56, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2020.101475.
Few studies have examined the motivations that lead individuals to spread false information online. This study does so in Nigeria, a country that has been heavily impacted by the spread of fake news. Indeed, countless pseudo-experts are spreading misleading information on Covid-19 on Nigerian social networks, encouraging people to decline prescribed medical care and instead advising them to use fake medicine, which is potentially harmful to their health.
In order to better understand the virality of this false information, the authors of the study interviewed 385 Nigerians and were thus bale to identify 5 motivations linked to the dissemination of false information online:
- altruism motivation, related to the desire to inform others;
- the desire to share information considered to be of interest to oneself or to others;
- the desire to keep track of certain information;
- the desire to interact with others;
- motivation related to boredom (sharing information on social networks to pass time);
The results of this study show that the altruistic motivation constitutes the strongest predictor of fake news sharing online. It would therefore be above all with the will to do good that individuals would come to share information that is in fact misleading. If this altruistic motivation is a factor in the dissemination of false information, it could also represent an opportunity to address this phenomenon if we succeed in encouraging individuals to be more careful of the quality of the information they share.