Nigerians' temperatures are taken at a border between Abuja and the Nasarawa State (Kola SULAIMON / AFP)

Nigerian health authority denounces fake social media accounts

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Social media accounts purporting to represent the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control have proliferated since February, when Africa's most populous country recorded its first case of COVID-19. AFP Fact Check rounds up some of the most popular fake accounts.

The various accounts on Twitter and Instagram have different usernames, but they all have one thing in common -- the abbreviation “NCDC”. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is the national health institute tasked with the prevention, detection and control of disease outbreaks across the country. 

Many of the accounts use emblems of the NCDC and the Nigerian government. They have spread widely on Twitter, including this one with more than 1,900 followers. 

Screenshot of the purported NCDC Twitter account, taken on April 7, 2020

The account is one of several that retweet genuine NCDC updates. Meanwhile, this one describes itself as “The Official Twitter Account Of the Nigeria Center of Disease Control”, although many posts have nothing to do with the pandemic, which has killed more than 80,000 people around the world.

The NCDC has disassociated itself from various Instagram accounts purporting to represent the organisation and warned that fake accounts may be "misleading" Nigerians. We’ve archived some of these Instagram accounts here, here, and here.

Screenshots purported NCDC Instagram accounts, taken on April 7, 2020

Official accounts

The NCDC has a verified Facebook and Twitter account with the handle “NCDCgov”, as well as this Youtube channel. The Nigerian health authority has no Instagram account, as of April 7, 2020.

Contacted by AFP, the NCDC confirmed that it has one Twitter account. “NCDC’s only Twitter account is @NCDCgov,” the organisation said via email.

Official NCDC social media accounts are available via its website.

Screenshot of NCDC website, taken on April 7, 2020

Fake accounts

Nigeria reported the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa on February 27, 2020. Since then, the figure has risen steadily to 254 confirmed cases as of April 7, 2020, according to the NCDC.

The NCDC said it was “battling with fake news and misinformation” and advised Nigerians to disregard COVID-19 information from sources other than its verified Twitter account or Nigeria's health ministry.

The NCDC has also launched a WhatsApp service, providing updates and testing information to members of the public.