Report: Nigerian Parties Paid Influencers for Disinformation

Image copyright: Getty Images [via BBC]

The Facts

  • 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.

The Spin

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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