NIGERIAN music artiste, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, is fond of using manipulated videos and photos to promote the presidential bid of the Labour Party’s candidate, Peter Obi, a close monitoring of his social media accounts by the FactCheckHub has shown.
He is one of the social media influencers popularly known for supporting the presidential candidacy of Peter Obi.
However, he has been caught several times sharing manipulated images and videos to deliberately misinform the public and has consistently failed to heed when his attention is drawn to such.
In November 2022, the celebrity shared a doctored video with a claim that it shows some American and Hollywood actors campaigning for Peter Obi.
The tweet read:
“Impressive. Peter Obi’s campaign has taken a global look with leading American TV and Hollywood actors driving the campaign.”
When tweeps cautioned Charly Boy, another Twitter user, @NATIVITY backed him, saying that sharing manipulated videos and photos is part of the game.
“You all shouting it’s edited are really not ready for this politics. Other candidates forge birthday certificate, do drugs and post fake exercise video for proof of life, and all you do here is to say is fake, edited blah blah blah, who win politics with such hulalah?” he argued.
Meanwhile, findings by The FactCheckHub show that the video has been online since 5 years ago.
In the video, Mathew McCoughaney and Idris Elba were providing answers to what was described as “the web’s most searched questions” written on a placard.
However, the texts in the video were manipulated to read: “Yes, it makes sense to vote for Peter Obi in 2023” with a Nigerian map included.
Charly Boy: A serial merchant of disinformation
This is not the first time Charly Boy is using misleading videos and photos to misinform the public. Most times he uses this to put the Labour Party and Peter Obi in the limelight.
On October 28, 2022, he tweeted a photo showing the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, watching Peter Obi, on a television screen.
Meanwhile, findings by The FactCheckHub show that the original image shows Tinubu in an aeroplane staring at a TV screen on his way from the United Kingdom to Nigeria. However, there was nothing showing on the screen.
The FactCheckHub also reported how he shared a misleading video with a claim that it showed Peter Obi’s supporters in boats holding a campaign rally in riverine areas. When The FactCheckHub subjected the video to verification, it revealed that the claim was FALSE.
Similarly, The FactCheckHub reported how he made a false claim about the electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He was also found tweeting a fake quote social card, attributing the quotes to the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Celebrities, Information Disorder and Election: Why Nigerians should be worried
Celebrities and other influential figures in the society, including religious and community leaders have a wider reach when it comes to information sharing. This makes it more difficult to correct if they spread or post false information via their platforms.
Recently, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) warned that the proliferation of electoral disinformation, misinformation and weaponisation of fake news, pose threat to the legitimacy of Nigeria’s 2023 general election.
The Centre noted that some people disseminate false information to discredit political opponents or to influence voters and the voting process.
It maintained that the spread and impact of disinformation is a global concern and a threat to the sustainability of democracy globally.
“Apparently, celebrities wield a huge lot influence when it comes to politics. That’s obvious with the Osun State elections and how Davido was super influential in his uncle’s victory. A lot of people are waiting for what the celebrities would say and even if it’s difficult to measure, you can easily guess that they do influence people’s decisions,” said Kunle Adebajo, a senior fact-checker and head of investigations at Humangle.
“This goes beyond because people are fond of them. It’s because they have a lot of followers, especially on social media. So, whatever they say goes a long way in shaping people’s opinions,” he added.
Adebajo urged entertainers and other social media influencers to be mindful of their posts and not create, share, or promote misinformation online.
“They need to be more responsible and understand the power that they wield and show accountability to people’s intelligence and the integrity of the electoral process by making sure that people are well informed and not disinformed.”
He further pointed out the need for social media platforms to limit the influence of influencers found wanting for sharing misinformation and stem the reach of their posts.
He posited: “The social media platforms also need to have more people looking into petitions about posts that may fall into the category of misinformation and also take more proactive actions in ensuring that such posts do not go viral or do not reach the timeline of thousands of millions of people thereby wreaking havoc before anything can be done.”
Adebajo further urged the association of musicians and other entertainers to incorporate social media use policy as part of their policy and gazette a sanction for members who breach it.
He added that electoral laws should demand transparency in political deals and should let people know if they are being sponsored for a certain post.
“Just the same way lobbyists in the US working for foreign organisations have to file details of the transactions, for example. So when you as a media organisation or an influencer with a number of followers receive money to do PR for a politician, there has to be full disclosure. People should be able to verify that you are getting paid for certain posts and know your likely motivations.”
“It might be difficult to implement, but I’m sure the regulators will find a way if they stay on the challenge,” he concluded.
On his part, Lanre Olagunju, the fact-check Editor at TheCable explained that celebrities are key stakeholders whom people look up to for genuine information citing this as a reason why they need to abstain from sharing false information.
“They are now the point of reference when it comes to information sharing and content management. It’s like those days when you ask people where they get information and they would say from NTA or Punch newspaper. That shows the credibility that people attach to such platforms.
“But these days when people see something on the handles of influencers, whether it’s true or not, they go for it and won’t even bother to check. Their pages are like pages of newspapers or Bible or religious books. Many people see things there they just take it like that, believing it has to be true. It’s quite unfortunate that some of them are now misleading people.”
He stressed that misinformation from influencers goes more viral due to their wide audience reach making it more difficult for fact-checkers to stop its virality.
“If an influencer shares misinformation with ten million people. Are you so sure that when you are fact-checking, your own fact-check would get 10 million views? That’s the challenge!” he pointed out.
He emphasized the need for fact-checkers to collaborate with social media influencers because information disorder has real-life consequences for the people that consume it.
He urged the citizens to always verify any information before sharing, regardless of their sources.
The headline has been updated to include the word “candidacy”.
Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.