Understanding the spread of Fake News with BBC Worldwide


BBC Worldwide wanted to explore the Fake News phenomenon across a number of international markets with a view to building a strategy for reducing its negative impact, as well as to feed into a Fake News conference, radio broadcast and a series of press articles. 

With Kenya and Nigeria as key markets for the BBC in East and West Africa, Flamingo’s people insight team carried out in-home qualitative interviews across three cities in Nigeria and two in Kenya to gain a detailed view of their behaviour and motivations around sharing fake news.

We had detailed conversations touching on multiple aspects of their lives – from childhood to adulthood, their influences, their idols, their likes and dislikes, their reaction to their changing environments, their news consumption, their usage of digital platforms, their social, cultural, and political perspectives and their sharing activity, eventually arriving at the topic of fake news. 

In addition to these interviews, we carried out two friendship triads in each market. In total, the Flamingo team carried out 80+ hours of in depth interviews across five cities. Flamingo’s semiotics team analysed academic literature on fake news, alongside the sources provided in-field and from the research team, to understand the structure and executional techniques of fake news. They specifically examined visual style, executional techniques, how fake news conveys authority, and how fake news promotes shareability.

Flamingo delivered a fresh understanding to BBC Worldwide of fake news in these markets, and highlighted the opportunity and need to reduce the blurred lines between legitimate and sources known to have published fake news for creating a healthier media environment.

One of our team was flown out to Kenya to speak at the BBC Fake News conference and was later interviewed on BBC Worldwide Radio, which has 75 million listeners. Our research fed into a number of publications on the BBC News website when the Fake News topic took over the homepage as a feature. 

Milly Liechti