Social Media and Fake News in Nigeria: A Speech Act Analysis of WhatsApp Messages on Coronavirus
Keywords:Coronavirus, Covid-19, WhatAspp, Social Media, Digital Communication
The evolution of social media has opened a new vista in digital communication across the world, Nigeria inclusive. Since the confirmation of the index case of Coronavirus in Nigeria, a lot of news on the subject which are largely considered by the World Health Organization to be false, had gone viral on the social media space. This study essentially examines some of those messages on WhatsApp that were circulated across Nigeria. Five WhatsApp messages collected between March – June, 2020 were analysed using the framework of Austin’s Speech Acts with insights from the Conversational Maxims of Grice’s Cooperative Principles. The main objective of this analysis is to unravel the communicative effects of language. Findings show that the writers of those WhatsApp messages carefully manipulate some linguistic features to make such messages perform some illocutionary acts as well as trigger some perlocutionary moves in the minds of the readers. This buttresses the fact that language is used to achieve both linguistic and non linguistic aims.
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