There is a joke that any family WhatsApp group with parents tagging along is the epicenter of fake news because parents are new to the intricacies of modern information tools, and are ill-equipped to taking extra steps to verify information at their hands. What they read on their Facebook and Twitter profiles, or hear from their friends is the gospel truth, and will find its way to the group with the aim of reprimanding young family members who portray behaviors similar to what the post is preaching against.
If this sounds familiar, then your family WhatsApp group is not that special because these are norms that we hope will self-correct as people learn about the power of news outlets, and the lengths they are ready to cover to appeal to a large audience as possible, even if it means peddling false information that confuses some of our parents and grandparents.
That aside, the world is, for the first time, battling a common enemy in the name of Coronavirus or as your bougie friends put it, COVID-19. The media has done a good job to apprise the world of the developments surrounding the virus, and for the Kenya case, information reaches the deepest of remote areas via transistor radios and televisions.
A report put together by Ajua in the last couple of days has investigated the information gap that is yet to be fully managed because fake news continue to influence a lot of people in Kenya.
So here are some of the numbers that the firm has released so far: in terms of awareness, an impressive 91 percent of the public is aware of the measures that the Kenya government has, and is continuing to implement to tackle Coronavirus; 84 percent of the sample size interviewed feel that they understand the symptoms of COVID-19; 78 percent of them know what they should do if they are infected; and 38 percent of the public feel adequately prepared to handle the disease in the event of infection (that is like 3 in 10 Kenyans).
What’s more, 60 percent of the public trust what television stations tell them regarding Coronavirus. You are, however, advised to be skeptical about what you read online because 20 percent of the public trusts the information posted there.
“For a country like Kenya to effectively curb the spread of misinformation both local authorities and members of the public have a role to play. Apart from cracking down on individuals spreading false rumors in a timely manner, the government can also give regular updates through televised news conferences. This gives Kenyans confidence that the information they’re receiving is genuine,” reads a statement from Ajua.