Study: WhatsApp, Facebook leading sources of fake news

Study: WhatsApp, Facebook leading sources of fake news

Fake news on Kenya’s polls will escalate as the country approaches the August 8 General Election, a new study has shown.

The survey by Portland and Geo Poll reveals that fakes news is widely spread using WhatsApp and Facebook platforms.

Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms for news, preferred overall by 46 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

The report dubbed “The Reality of Fake News in Kenya”, was launched earlier today in Nairobi. The analysis said 90 per cent of respondents reported having seen false or inaccurate news in relation to the general election.

“Eighty-seven per cent of respondents regarded this news as being deliberately misleading – or fake news,” the report read in part.

Forty-nine per cent of those interviewed were found using social platforms to access general election news.

The study, however, revealed that traditional media still remains the most trusted news sources, with television ranked most highly, followed by radio and newspapers.

Nevertheless, social media consistently ranks lower than traditional media on trust.

Radio was polled as the most consistently accessed source of news in Kenya, with the smallest variation between different regions across the country.

The study, which is an initiative of strategic communications consultancy Portland in collaboration with GeoPoll, was aimed at quantifying the prevalence and impact of false information during an election campaign in Africa.

It also found out that friends, family and community leaders are the least trusted sources of news overall, ranked as the least likely to provide accurate information about the general election.

“Fifty-seven per cent of Kenyans feel able to access all the information about the general election that they need. A vast majority of Kenyans (78 per cent) would like more factual and accurate information about the general election in place of opinion and commentary,” the study adds.

According to the survey, 67 per cent of the respondents prefer comprehensive and detailed information about politics. With about 33 per cent of them preferring summarized and concise news.

Allan Kamau, Head of Portland Nairobi, said: “while fake news is evidently now a core part of the news mix in Kenya, reassuringly our survey found that Kenyans are already well attuned to spotting false information.”

Kamau disclosed that respondents cited conflicting data, controversial messages and biased reporting as the top factors that lead them to suspect something is false.

“Getting even more sophisticated about spotting and tackling fake news will be vital in ensuring that credible news source scan maintain trust,” he added.

On his part, Robert Watkinson, Partner at Portland, said 4 in 10 Kenyans were unable to access accurate information about the general election.

“Fake news is clearly a limiting factor on the electorate’s ability to make informed decisions,”

“By revealing the scale and impact of fake news, we hope this study provides a new point of reference not just for political campaigning in Kenya but also for all communicators seeking to engage Kenyans in the digital age.” Watkinson explained.

The nationwide poll which was done in May, interviewed 2,000 respondents across all 47 Kenyan counties through an SMS survey where the forthcoming general election was the subject of the study.

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