Sorting Fact From Fiction

Nigeria 2019 election fact file

The Centre for Democracy and Development’s Election Analysis Centre (EAC) for the 2019 presidential and gubernatorial elections represented the first attempt in Nigeria at running a rigorous fact-checking process before, during and after the electoral process of both presidential and gubernatorial elections. CDD’s specific mandate was to provide a filter and check on viral stories that were demonstrably false. Or to confirm, with sources and justification, if certain events were true. To do this CDD worked in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute and the Premium Times. However, there is scope for greater collaboration with other like-minded institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the future.

Monitoring the online landscape is not just relevant for fact-checking, but allowed our research team to collect examples of hateful, inflammatory or false content; find groups that were spreading it; and track trending topics and disinformation campaigns online. Groups and accounts that we initially found led us to more, which if significant were added to our list online sources to be observed in future. In our online monitoring, we were able to identify three key content types that we subsequently focused on:

  1. Election logistic
  2. Election-related violence videos
  3. Conspiracy theories

Images or videos were analysed using tools such as reverse-image search to verify their origins and see if the content had appeared elsewhere. The factchecking process for a single story could take up to one hour and involved detecting a trending story – sometimes shared on private WhatsApp groups⁴, reaching out to our observers in the field and then designing and publishing the fact-check. Our standard format was in the form of an infographic that clearly showed the material being fact-checked, whether it be a picture, or a headline or a tweet. We chose infographics because the format allows us to convey information in an easily consumable form. Our tracking showed that our infographics had on average, 20 interactions on Twitter. In looking for sources of fake news, we were able to map the partisan nature of the online landscape

Download: Sorting Fact from Fiction.