1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Due to the topical nature of fake news, there is a great deal of recent information to be found on the subject and related areas. The impact of fake news on students has become a major concern. The topic features regularly in the media, and studies exploring the ability of children, young people and adults to identify fake news, and recommendations linked with their findings, are emerging. One recent definition of the term suggests that “in its purest form [fake news is] completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue” (Hunt, 2016). Indeed, the ease with which the internet and social media allow information to be exchanged, and the opportunities for popular sites to be ‘monetised’ through advertising revenue, has removed many of the financial or regulatory barriers that print media may previously have posed to potential creators of fake news. The use of “fake news” to describe material reported without basis in fact should be considered distinct from some of the other uses of the term, such as media produced with deliberate satirical and parodic intent (although public confusion between fabricated news, satire and fact has also caused concern [Woolf, 2017]). The term has also been appropriated by some US conservatives to describe “any reporting they don’t like” (Demlanyk, 2017). For example, a tweet from Donald Trump in February 2017 suggested “any negative polls are fake news” (Borchers, 2017) and Trump has even described entire news organisations, such as CNN, as “fake news” (Wemple, 2017). Damian Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s 2017 inquiry into fake news, feels this to be a “pernicious” use of the term, stating: “We need to fight for a clear definition of fake news. This term should be restricted for news stories that are entirely fake” as this appropriation “…suggests that fake news is in the eye of the beholder, rather than being something that can be clearly defined” (as cited by Demlanyk, 2017). Some commentators have offered categorisations of ‘fake news’. The University of Western Ontario’s ‘deception detector’ (Rubin, 2017) describes ‘five types’:
· Intentionally deceptive (as in ‘The Pope has endorsed candidate Trump’)
· Jokes taken at face value (e.g. misunderstanding parody and satire)
· Large-scale hoaxes (such as the incorrect story that the founder of a beer company had made everyone in his home village a millionaire)
· Slanted reporting of real facts
· Stories where the truth is contentious
In a 2017 speech preceding the annual Global Education and Skills Forum, OECD Director Andreas Schleicher (as cited in Siddique, 2017) suggested: “Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is a critical skill today. Exposing fake news, being aware that there is something like fake news, having the knowledge that there is something that is written that is not necessarily true, that you have to question, think critically, that is very important. This is something we believe schools can do something about.” Anne Longfield (as cited in Sky News, 2017), also believes that students “often lack the experience and understanding to be able to deal with the fake sites and fake news they see” and that they “need the skills to prepare them for the digital world” with “digital citizenship classes in schools” being one way to aid this preparation. Longfield also emphasised the role of social media and other digital organisations, stating that we “need to see responsible behaviour from the digital industry”. To summarise, the proliferation of fake news in recent times has caused considerable concern at a national and an international level, with academics, educationalists and policymakers calling for action to improve student’s skills and confidence in identifying fake news.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Motsaathebe (2011) posits that "the information dissemination is generally regarded as a credible provider of a realistic view of what happens around the world. In disseminating news, people rely on various sources to verify or lend credibility to the Information they put across". Kolawole (2017) writes, “Fake news — that art of concocting stories from your bedroom because you have a smart phone with cheap data — is becoming the biggest thing in town. No, it is not new. It was not invented in this generation of social media. We have been living with fake news most of our lives. The SAP riots of 1989, for instance, were sparked off by fake news.” The assertions above point the how fake news affects not just the media and society but students as well. With the advent of the new media, the scourge of fake news is becoming more prevalent that its negative impact on students is very evident. As Allcot & Gentzkow (2017) said, "The declining trust in mainstream media could be both a cause and a consequence of fake news gaining more traction". If fake news can affect students, then its impact on major information carried out can only be imagined. The literacy level in the country has not entirely made the difference between social media and printed media a common knowledge to all. It is still believed in some quarters that there is no difference between a major online news site and Face book. To this extent, it is feared that whatever negative impression people have of one is extended to the other.
1.3AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the sources and knowledge of fake news among students of National Open University. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine how frequent cases of fake news are reported among students in National Open University.
2. To highlight the causes of fake news among students in Nigeria.
3. To assess if fake news has an impact of students in Nigeria
4. To examine if social media play a part in the dissemination of fake news in National Open university.
5. To recommend ways of minimising incidences of fake news among students in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. how frequent are cases of fake news are reported among students in National Open University?
2. What are the causes of fake news among students in Nigeria?
3. Does fake news has an impact of students in Nigeria?
4. Does social media play a part in the dissemination of fake news in National Open University?
5. What are the ways of minimising incidences of fake news among students in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There are no sources of fake news among students in Nigeria.
H02: There is no impact of fake news on students in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
From this research, online media practitioners would better understand the extent of damage which fake news is doing to their trade. They would get to know why they should rely on credible sources of information rather than embellishing what a user posted on the social media as story for their readers. This study would help readers know the difference between the social media and online information so that the intemperance of the one would no longer mar the other. Students stand to benefit from this work as it is an effort to ensure very useful roles of the media to the society and how fake news or misinformation can affect their performance. In sum, this paper would be of benefit to other researchers a basis to build upon or a support for their work.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the sources and knowledge of fake news among students of National Open University, Lagos state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.