False news websites exploit Nigeria’s divisions post-election, BBC investigation reveals

Beyond their role in spreading false information, these websites exhibit bias, actively favoring or attacking Nigerian politicians.

a person holding a tablet in front of a Nigerian flag.

According to a BBC investigation, several websites that emerged around Nigeria’s February 2023 general elections are gaining widespread reach by disseminating false information, potentially exacerbating the country’s deep divisions.

These websites blend fabricated stories with actual news about sports, entertainment, and politics, sometimes churning out up to 700 pieces per month. They also show bias in favour of or against Nigerian politicians.

The BBC Global Disinformation Team scrutinised three websites – Podium Reporters, registered in 2021, Reportera in July 2022, and Parallel Facts in May 2023. While they initially appeared to support specific candidates, their primary motive might be to generate substantial ad revenue. Media consultants suggest these websites can make anywhere from $100 to $10,000 monthly. The websites did not respond to inquiries about their false news content or earnings.

Why does it matter?

The BBC investigation demonstrates once more how false news websites have a detrimental impact on the democratic process. Experts say that false narratives from these sites have impacted national conversations and continue to do so. The divisive aftermath of the contested election is amplified by these websites, which continue to disseminate unverified information despite being debunked by fact-checking agencies. They have also drawn the attention of politicians, further boosting their influence.