Remember during the Xenophobia fracas when Trevor Noah allegedly put up a post that everyone was enamoured with and claimed it was the greatest thing since sliced bread? What if i were to tell you it was ‘Fake News’
Yes, that’s the reaction that most people had upon learning the truth. Trevor Noah had at no point put out this tweet.
But guess what? It went viral! Nigerians and Africans at large applauded it, we even reported on this (You can read that here) and right wingers used it as a means to attack Trevor and accuse him of an ‘anti-white’ agenda.
If you haven’t clicked the link provided above, what the post basically said was that Blacks have no reason to fight each other and that the majority of South Africa’s wealth is held by the Whites. While not explicitly stating it, this was a post that many saw as a rallying cry for all blacks to view the whites as the problem and attack them instead of each other.
But here’s the thing; there’s no record of the Daily Show host saying this. While Trevor Noah is prone to the occasional ‘Real talk’ session on his shows, he didn’t tackle this one.
According to a Medium post by a user called @DFRLab, the quote was said to have originated as far back as 2017 (maybe even earlier, but that remains unclear) when a website called ‘Happenings in Nigeria’ attributed the quote to Trevor without giving any other references. It resurfaced during the situation with South Africa and was applauded from people like Nnedi Okorafor and Aramide while right leaning publications took the post as an ‘Anti-White’ declaration.
What this shows basically is just how deep the problem of fake news eats into the very fabric of society and just how much of an effect it could have. Nothing really came of the fake statements, however, imagine for a second if South Africans had taken up arms and instead decided to look farms owned by White South Africans or perhaps even go about lynching them, imagine how much more damage that could have caused. If asked why they did it, they would say it was Trevor’s quotes. Also, the statements have created another talking point for right wing commentators who are only too eager to make the left look irrational and unhinged.
Even during the Xenophobic attacks, there were many statements that were either outright lies or came from a long time ago that were being touted as news and this only added to the already significant level of opprobrium being exhibited by Nigerians at the time.
Fake news is a real issue and one that with the reach of social media, looks less and less likely to be done away with. The moral of the Trevor Noah story really is that as consumers or broadcasters of news, we need to be very careful of what we consume/disseminate. There are tools for checking the veracity of news reports and they will become more and more handy as time goes on, but until such a time as something is put in place that can eradicate fake news, let’s stay safe on those [Twitter/Facebook/Instagram] streets.
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