Report: Nigerian Parties Paid Influencers for Disinformation

    Report: Nigerian Parties Paid Influencers for Disinformation
    Last updated Jan 18, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via BBC]


    • A BBC investigation has found that Nigerian political parties have been secretly paying social media influencers to weaken their opponents' respective campaigns by spreading disinformation ahead of the general elections in February.
    • According to the report, prominent influencers and whistle-blowers working for two of Nigeria's political parties told the BBC that political parties distribute cash, expensive gifts, public sector contracts, and political appointments for the influencers' work.
    • An anonymous Nigerian politician reportedly revealed that he and his party had paid an influencer up to 20M Naira ($45K) for his work, while an anonymous political strategist said that fake stories are often created to "misinform in a suitable way."
    • The BBC also uncovered and reported multiple Twitter accounts linked to spreading disinformation regarding Nigeria's elections, some of which the social media company ultimately removed. Twitter told the BBC that it had a responsibility to safeguard political discussions from interference and incorrect information.
    • Recently, influencers promoted a claim without evidence about Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi while false claims have also spread on social media about People's Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar.
    • More than 90M Nigerians have registered to vote in next month's election, with 18 candidates hoping to oust Pres. Muhammadu Buhari.


    Narrative A

    Ahead of the 2023 national elections, Nigerian celebrities and influencers have entered into a race to persuade their followers to register to vote — or even to convince them to support their favorite presidential candidates. While the true impact of their influence on voters is yet to be known, it is certain that they cannot automatically convert their followers into voters. All influencers can really do is try to sway the vote by campaigning for a party.

    Narrative B

    Drawing on political patronage, perks, monetary incentives, and influencers, Nigeria's political parties are guilty of using unscrupulous means to campaign against their opponents. Indeed, social media has likely only made these pre-existing toxic political tendencies worse. Politicians are cynically relying on divisive issues like ethnicity and religion to cement their control as Nigeria goes through particularly difficult times.

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