Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 152-157

“Infodemic” in a pandemic: COVID-19 conspiracy theories in an african country

1 Department of Mass Communication, The Polytechnic Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
2 Department of General Studies, The Polytechnic Ibadan; Department of Psychology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
3 Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
4 Department of Public Administration, The Polytechnic Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Olusola Ayandele
Department of General Studies, Room 2, GNS Annex II, The Polytechnic, Ibadan, PMB 22
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_43_20

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Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), being the first pandemic to occur in the digital communications era, is rife with “infodemic” of misinformation and conspiracy theories. This article explored popular conspiracy theories about COVID-19 in Nigeria and highlighted the sources of COVID-19 information among Nigerians and perceived trustworthiness of the information sources. It also identified various inaccurate information and conspiracy claims reported by traditional media in Nigeria. Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out among a sample of 736 undergraduate students of a public tertiary institution in Nigeria. A purposive sampling technique was used to recruit participants through social media platforms. Google Forms was used to host an anonymous questionnaire and the link sent to the Facebook and WhatsApp groups of students' associations. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. The data collection was initiated on May 27 and closed on June 5, 2020. Descriptive statistical analyses were conducted on participants' responses. Results: COVID-19 infection in Nigeria is seen as “an exaggeration by the government and media,” and as a “Chinese biological weapon.” Traditional media is the most popular source of information about COVID-19. Nigeria Centre of Diseases Control is the most trusted source of COVID-19 information, while information from political leaders and social media was perceived as untrustworthy. Conclusion: COVID-19 conspiracy theories were driven majorly on social media, by a dearth of trust in political leadership and “breaking” of inaccurate coronavirus news by traditional media. Stakeholders need to collaborate to debunk conspiracy theories.

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