THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE PANIC WITHDRAWAL OF SCHOOL STUDENTS OVER THE RUMOURED ARMY KILLER VACCINE

1Ukaegbu, Michael Ibe, Ph D. and 2Efetobor, O. Elijah

1&2Department of Mass Communication, Abia State University Uturu, Nigeria.

Joseph Boakai College of Social and Management Sciences, Gregory University, Uturu

Abia State, Nigeria

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ABSTRACT

As we move from the previous analogic or traditional society to the dot.com age, social media resources have not only influenced, but are redefining the whole essence of sitymodes of social interaction in contemporary Nigeria is Rumour mongering. Although people often refer to it as hearsay or common talk, in our today Nigeria, rumour permeates every strata of our society, and gradually, the mongering of rumour is gaining ground. The social media therefore, provided the grounds for some users to conceive and spread the rumour that the military men were overpowering teachers in schools they allegedly visited and administering the drugs to their victims without their consent. The rumour claimed some pupils who had been inoculated slumped and were rushed to medical facilities. It was speculated on the social media that the Federal Government was out on a diabolical mission to inject people in some parts of the country with monkey pox in the guise of vaccination. Using descriptive data analysis of academic literature, it was found that the rumour mostly originated from individual sources as posted on facebook by unknown user, and subsequently twitted before being shared on interactive chatting platforms and groups like whatsapp, and Blackberry messenger. Also, it was observed that the misrepresentation of the medical outreach by the Army by the rumour mongers was as a deliberate act to get back at the Military that used ‘operation Python Dance’ to thwart the IPOB struggles and eventual naming of the IPOB as a terrorist group.   It was concluded that the reason why the rumour succeeded was because the medical mission did not do sufficient public awareness before starting the programme. And because people did not understand the purpose of the mission, they subscribed to the rumour which eventually aborted the programme. Among other things, it was recommended that Well-intended future programmes must not take the people for granted. Rather, sufficient public awareness must be done before starting such programme. That way, there wouldn’t be opportunity for people to mislead other users through rumours on the social media channels.

 

Key Words: Influence, Social Media, Panic, Rumour, Killer Vaccine

 

INTRODUCTION

As we shift from the previous analogic or traditional society to the conventional global society, technologies of various kinds have undoubtedly evolved, are still evolving and will continue to evolve. One of such technologies that have not only influenced, but are defining the whole essence of interpersonal and social relationships is the various evolving social media gateways.

Social media have increasingly gained popularity in recent years, enabling people not only to keep in touch with family and friends, but also to stay abreast of ongoing events and breaking news as they unfold. The potential for spreading information quickly through a large community of users is one of the most valuable characteristics of social media platforms. Social media, being open to everyone, enable not only news organisations and journalists to post news stories, but also ordinary citizens to report from their own perspectives and experiences. This broadens the scope and diversity of information that one can get from social media and sometimes may even

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