About this Research Topic
Since the outbreak of the Corona virus (COVID 19) in China in December 2019, there has been an explosion of information across various media platforms globally. Notably, social media has acted as a public sphere of engagement regarding the origin and implications of corona virus locally and internationally. Unfortunately, a great percentage of information about the pandemic, its symptoms, transmission methods and response mechanisms has been unreliable. As a result, audiences have been treated to misinformation, disinformation, myths and misconceptions through propaganda and fake news. However, part of the reason for the latter can be attributed to the technical nature of social media platforms that tend to pigeon-hole users through echo chambers and algorithms. This Research Topic seeks highly researched articles that investigate the “Myths, Misconceptions and Politics of Covid 19in Africa on Social Media Platforms.”
Our interest is how African countries, late comers in the pandemic, have responded with varied expectations of the potential impacts of the pandemic, given Africa’s weak health infrastructure, a product of socio-economic and political corruption, as warned by experts, including the WHO, judging from how the pandemic has devastated the health structure of developed economies such as the USA, Italy and Spain. Health systems in Africa have a limited capacity to absorb the pandemic. In this context, the narrative in Africa is a defensive, unusual wait-and-see narrative that captures the fears and hopes of Africans concerning fatalities and how they might, indeed, be spared the worst of the pandemic. Consequently, narratives from state agencies of low death rates witnessed in many Africa countries in general and high recovery rates in countries like Senegal and Kenya and their meanings to ordinary citizens, as mediated online, vis-à-vis State response mechanisms are worth inspection and appraisal.
In addition, as opposed to mainstream institutional narratives from governments, state agencies and pressure groups and their underlying meanings, often mediated differently, this Research Topic will focus on ordinary content from everyday users of social media (cyber citizens), i.e. user generated content, and how this agrees, disagrees and negotiates with official content from these mainstream political/ and or State institutions and, therein, the underlying implications regarding the realities of COVID 19 in Africa going forward.
The research papers should focus on the following research questions:
• To what extent are social media networks used negatively in local and global discourses about the Covid 19 pandemic and how can this influence the volatile peace and conflict environment in Africa?
• What are the manifestations of the positive exploitation of social media networks in addressing the pandemic?
• How are technological companies coping with user generated content on Covid 19 and what measures are they putting in place to safeguard users against myths, misconceptions, propaganda and fake news about Coivid 19?
• What roles is government and civil society playing in ensuring the public receives accurate information on Covid 19 on social media networks?
• What is the evidence of how social media can be used for citizen sensitization and education on Covid 19?
• What are the responsibilities of social media networks users when generating and sharing content on Corona Virus?
Both qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic research methods are welcome in order to explore social media use patterns in different ecologies and localities in Africa as important dimensions of epistemology regarding Covid 19, from questions about whether or not Covid 19 is a natural occurrence, where nature is said to be reclaiming its space dominated by humans, or to suspicions of laboratory release manifested in the propaganda wars between the USA and China where the rest/others, especially Africans, are victims of Euro-North America-centric epistemological monopoly views and attendant neocolonial discourses of how Africa is the ‘best’ potential site for testing possible corona virus vaccines.
***Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article publishing charges for submissions to this Research Topic by December 31, 2020.***
Keywords: social media, misinformation, misconception, covid19, africa
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.