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Crisis, social media and fake news in Sub-Saharan Africa : The case of the Anglophone problem in Cameroon

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Author list: Nounkeu Tatchou, Christian
Publication year: 2019

Abstract

This paper examines and compares the verifiability of the news stories disseminated on Facebook, by the government and the secession activists in relation to the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. I argue that the power, structure and affordance of Facebook provide a fertile ground for partisan activists in authoritarian political contexts of the Sub-Saharan Africa, to inundate the public with strategic false information, inundate with the intention of mobilizing public opinion support and advancing political agendas. Theoretically, I draw from the news content models of fake news classification and the theory of framing. Empirically, I use a quantitative content analysis method to analyze the news published on Honneur et fidélité and Baretanews, respectively Facebook pages of the Cameroon government and the exiled Anglophone activist, called Mark Bareta. The period of analysis includes four weeks (15th August 2018-15th September 2018). The results show that the secessionist activist published more news stories on Facebook than the Cameroonian government. However, the information circulated on Baretanews severely lacked basic elements of reliability, while the stories shared on Honneur et fidélité were consistently corroborated by visual cues and attributed sources. Moreover, the secessionist activist used mainly the conflict and the attribution of responsibility frames, whereas the Cameroonian government use the conflict and human-interest frames.


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