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WhatsApp Aunties, Fake News and Why We Should Empower, Not Shame Them

“Iya Bisola, you have to listen to that recording I sent you. They are sending the military to arrest people if they leave their houses.”

Based on the conviction in my Aunt’s voice you would have thought she had seen the army with her own eyes.

As I deleted messages shared on the pandemic and supposed cures, I was stunned. It was evident these messages were smothered in inaccuracy, yet, I couldn’t help but wonder why older African relatives were so easily accepting of information they could effortlessly dismiss.   

Whilst we laugh at our aunties and mums on Twitter, we must not dismiss the ability of fake news to influence the way one thinks, acts or reacts to current affairs. This can especially be dangerous during moments of uncertainty. As of 2018, over two-thirds of people in Europe said they encounter fake news at least once a week, compared to the 38% of people in the UK.