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Words travel fast: A field study of communication in Ethiopia
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The scarce internet access in Ethiopia puts heavy weight on traditional media and people to spread news and information. By testing if the marketing strategy Word of Mouth is applicable on informative content, rather than just brands and products, this thesis explore the motivation to spread news as well as how it is received by a non-internet using group. As with brands, a common trigger for WOM was the subject being brought up in a discussion, both offline and online. Conditions that increased WOM in marketing such as being sociable and feeling a responsibility also increased WOM for more political content. The study also found that there is a low trust for internet as a source, but a high trust for the word of many. If the message was heard multiple times it was more believable, even though a primary source was lacking. In general both internet users and non-internet users were actively spreading information with the reason that it needed to be spread, something that was concluded as a collectivist action where information is spread quickly through social ties. Non-internet users were considered to be extra fragile and exposed to fake news due to the unequal distribution of information and technology. Since trust was based on the message of many, echo chambers and confirmation bias is discussed, as well as how Ethiopia might tackle the segregation of technology in the country in order to decrease inequality in the future.

Abstract [sv]

Den svaga tillgången till internetuppkoppling i Etiopien lägger ett stort ansvar på traditionell media, och människor, för att sprida nyheter och information till landets stora befolkning. Genom att testa om marknadsföringsstrategin Word of Mouth också är applicerbar på informativa budskap undersöker denna uppsats motivationen bakom att sprida nyheter, samt hur denna mottas av en grupp som inte använder internet. Liksom med varumärken var en vanlig trigger för WOM med informativ kontext att ämnet nämndes i en pågående diskussion, både online och offline. Förutsättningar som stärkte WOM vid marknadsföring, såsom att vara social och känna ett samhällsansvar ökade också WOM för nyheter. Studien fann också att det var låg tillit för internet som källa, men att det fanns stor tilltro till information som upprepades av olika personer. Ett budskap som hördes från flera olika var mer trovärdigt, oavsett vilken den primära källan var eller om den saknades helt. Generellt spred både internetanvändare och icke-användarna information av anledningen att det behövdes spridas och höras av alla invånare, vilket tolkades som en kollektivistisk handling där nyheter snabbt spreds i sociala nätverk. De som inte använder internet ansågs vara extra exponerade för fake news på grund av den ojämställda distributionen av information och tillgången till teknologi. Då tillit var baserat på upprepning från många diskuterar uppsatsen även echo chambers och confirmation bias, samt hur Etiopien i framtiden kan tackla den tekniska segregationen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 14
Series
TRITA-EECS-EX ; 2019:507
Keywords [en]
Ethiopia; Word of Mouth; Trust; Internet Access; Fake News; Filter Bubbles
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-261620OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-261620DiVA, id: diva2:1359250
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-11-07 Created: 2019-10-08 Last updated: 2019-11-07Bibliographically approved

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