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Legitimating Falsehood in Social Media: A Discourse Analysis of Political Fake News

Igwebuike, Ebuka and Chimuanya, Lily (2021) Legitimating Falsehood in Social Media: A Discourse Analysis of Political Fake News. A Discourse Analysis of Political Fake News’. In: Discourse & Communication, 15 (1). pp. 42-58.

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Digital peddling of fake news is influential to persuasive political participation, with veritable social media platforms. Social media, with their instantaneous and widespread usage, have been exploited by ‘anonymous’ political influencers who fabricate and inundate internet community with unverified and false information. Using van Leeuwen’s Discourse Legitimation approach and insights from Discourse Analysis, this study analyses 120 purposively sampled fake news posts on Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter, shared during the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. WhatsApp allows for the easy and fast sharing of fake news as it pulled the largest occurrence of legitimation strategies, followed by Facebook. Authorisation is the highest occurring legitimation strategy at 46.6% frequency; this is followed by Moralisation which has 27% and Rationalisation at 26.4%; while Mythopoesis did not feature at all in the sampled data, leaving it at 0%. In particular, expert and role model authority are most often deployed to validate fake news such as the demise and cloning of President Buhari, ruling party’s plan to rig and destabilise the 2019 election, massive corruption in the current administration and imminent ethnic violence. The study argues that these strategies are viable persuasive tools owing to their use of discourse markers like make-believe images, emotive language, appeal to emotions, rational conclusions, hateful comments, verbal indictment and coercive verbs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fake news, legitimation strategies, discourse analysis, social media, Nigerian election
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mrs Patricia Nwokealisi
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 12:52
Last Modified: 25 May 2021 14:57

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