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Social Media Misinformation the Subject of Erasmus+ Lecture

TPAAE institutional lead Prof. Stephen Muoki, Ph.D., of Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya, will examine the myths and misinformation unleashed on social media by the Covid-19 pandemic in an Erasmus+ lecture that will take at the Art Academy in Szczecin.
Thanks to deepening penetration of smartphones, the introduction of G4 cellular technology and the growth in messaging platforms those developments underpinned, Kenyans were subjected to a barrage of deceptive and ultimately unverifiable information about the virus and its effects. This as the government in March 2020 implemented a ban on physical gatherings that included churches, mosques and other religious centres that serve as hubs for community analysis and action prompted by current events in Africa’s seventh most-populous nation.
While identifying the growth in platforms as an opportunity for rank-and-file Kenyans to expand their sources of information and for government officials to improve their outreach, Muoki argues that these portals are not without risk. In the case of the pandemic, these ran to erroneous directives about how to screen the information they received across the spectrum of social media.
Using surveys and focus groups to assess digital literacy, Muoki’s researched the harm caused by misinformation distributed through religiously focused social media outlets. His work traces the vulnerability of members to an over-reliance on religious leaders for spiritual interpretation of social phenomena.
Muoki’s lecture will take place in the Academy’s Winter Garden on May 8 beginning at noon and is open to the public.

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