EXAMINATION OF THE ROLE OF TWITTER ON COVID-19 INFORMATION DISSEMINATION TO THE POPULACE
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an infectious disease causes respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory difficulties. It originated from the Hunan seafood market at Wuhan, China where live bats, snakes, raccoon dogs, wild animals among others were sold in December 2019 (Shereen et al., 2020, pp. 91–98) and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020 (WHO, 2020). Since its identification, the virus is said to have accounted for about 512,311 deaths globally out of a swooping statistic of 10,514,028 positive cases which sadly increases exponentially daily (WHO, 2020). The first victim of the virus in Nigeria was an Italian man who arrived in the country on the 25 February 2020. He was admitted to an Isolation Centre in Yaba Lagos after showing symptoms of the virus (NCDC 2020). Subsequently, the cases increased.
As the world finds itself in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has become inundated with content associated with the virus (Hieken 2020). Although all social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, blogs) were providing disseminating information about the Covid-19 and medical content, perhaps no other social media consistently played a more prominent role as at that period than Twitter (Hieken 2020).
Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service where users post messages using “tweets” that are limited to 240 characters. Twitter however promotes interaction and public participation over various issues of human concerns. Therefore, the unhindered interactive nature of Twitter has given vast opportunities to the public to engage in interactions and dissemination of information over several issues (Micheal 2002). For well over a decade, Twitter has become increasingly used as a platform where individuals exchange ideas, information, and commentary. The hashtag #FOAMed garners thousands of tweets per hour, and at this momentous period in medical history, no subject is more prominent than COVID-19. With the free-flow of messages, and information about the world’s drastic measures towards Covid-19. Hence this researched is geared towards assessing the role of Twitter on Covid-19 Information Dissemination to the Populace.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
In the Nigerian context, Twitter among other social media is a means of keeping up with occurrences all over the globe and is used to shed light as regards the Nigerian situation. The penetration of Twitter is quite extensive in Nigeria particularly since the advent of cheap android smartphones telephony. What is worrisome is how to sieve authentic information from an avalanche of half-truths and false information available on Twitter networks.
The Covid-19 and the lockdown policies introduced by the government made people to be solely dependent on the media, thus the influence the Twitter had during this period on information dissemination have not been attained in any other pandemic. Therefore it is upon this note that this study is carried out.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The study is focused on examining the role of Twitter on Covid-19 Information dissemination to the Populace from Nigeria Perspective. To achieve this, the following objectives have been mapped out;
To establish whether Twitter played a major role on dissemination of information about the covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
To find out the extent to which the use of Twitter provided information about the covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
To ascertain the extent of genuinity of information disseminated in Twitter during the period of Covid-19.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Twitter did not play any significant role on covid-19 information dissemination in Nigeria.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study on the role of Twitter on Covid-19 information dissemination to the populace will in no doubt serve as a relevant material to all individuals, organizations and the Governments as it reveals the power of social media in getting information across nations of the world and can be used as a tool to promote and circulate business or no business ideas. This study will also assist other researchers who may for one reason or the other carryout research on topics related the one under study.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is only focused on the role of Twitter on Covid-19 information dissemination to the populace. Hence this study covers Twitter users in Dutse, Federal Capital Territory - Abuja.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Like all human endeavours, this research work was not without some factors that tended to jeopardize the smooth completion of the study.
One of the factors is on the fact that the period of time allowed for this work was short that the researcher did not have enough time to do a thorough job.
Also the researcher in the course of data collection, had to put in extra effort to interpreting interviews schedule of the respondents, some who fall within the in comprehensible age limit.
Above all, there were financial and transit constraints.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Social Media: Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities.
Twitter: Twitter is a 'microblogging' system that allows you to send and receive short posts called tweets. Tweets can be up to 140 characters long and can include links to relevant websites and resources.
Dissemination: This is the act or process of disseminating - distributing, spreading, broadcasting, or dispersing widely. The word is especially used in reference to the distribution of information, or things that contain information, like files and documents.
Covid-19: COVID 19 coronavirus is an illness caused by a new virus that is spreading rapidly across the world. It can affect your breathing system – your lungs and airways. It can be spread from person to person through germs that end up on the hands and on surfaces when infected persons are coughing or sneezing