SOCIAL MEDIA AND DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION OF RUMOURS IN NIGERIA
Digital communication gives access to faster information and inexpensive modes of communication at a distance. Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with the fastest growing social media culture. While rumour is an agelong practice in the country, its spread has been greatly enhanced by the social media due to ‘virtual unreality’, visual anonymity as well as disinhibition and deindividuation features of online communication. Using postings on Facebook, WhatsApp, and text messages, and working within the framework of van Dijk's socio-cognitive approach to Critical Discourse Analysis, this study interrogates discursive issues that border specifically on ideological and identity leanings in these postings. Discursive construction of rumours rely on negative construction of Others to reinforce and validate existing biases and prejudices; vivid construction of the socio-cultural world through narrativity; performative constructions to compel people to propagate rumours; the use of evidence to enhance believability; addressivity to enable the sharing of social meaning; and number game to ensure credibility, objectivity, precision and persuasion.