Côte D’Ivoire’s Fake News Ecosystem: An Overview

This report argues that fake news in Cote d'Ivoire is a predominantly political phenomenon and that it poses a considerable threat to political stability. Falsehoods in Cote d'Ivoire spread most rapidly on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as via word-of-mouth. Indeed, the interaction between these online and offline spaces has amplified the pace at which falsehoods can spread around the country in recent years. Although social media is increasingly popular, particularly among young people, there is a particular challenge associated with fake news spread by word-of-mouth in the country. This is not a new challenge, but it is one that has been amplified with the growth of online platforms. The overlap and interplay between the two means that fake news that starts online can spread rapidly into offline spaces in ways that fact-checking initiatives often fail to match. This study finds that the prominence of fake news is exacerbated and facilitated by the dearth of timely and credible information provided by the government. Silence creates the space for conspiracy theories and rumours to flourish. Even when the government does provide information, people do not trust it be true, preferring instead to rely on social media influencers and people they know personally who provide more regular, though not always accurate, updates.