Tweet to trust: Social media and elections in West Africa

Title: Tweet to trust: Social media and elections in West Africa
Format: Conference
Publication Date: 2013
Description: Today is an exciting time to be a political activist in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for the technically inclined. Online social media and other digital technologies are increasingly being used for political purposes. But this phenomenon raises the question of how, if at all, these new media actually perturb the political landscape. These questions have been well-studied in Western contexts, but remain relatively underexplored in developing regions where traditional media are often scarcer, democracies are younger, and the effect of social media on politics has the potential to be quite distinct. This paper explores these questions through a qualitative dual case study of social media use during general elections in Nigeria and Liberia in 2011. Participants suggested that social media helps to overcome previous scarcity of information during the electoral process, leading to increased transparency and reduced tension. Furthermore, social media-based monitoring shows encouraging signs of robustness concerning information quality and mobility. Together, these findings suggest that given sufficient civil-society coordination, social media can be an effective tool for electoral scrutiny and can help build public trust in the electoral process. Copyright 2013 ACM.
Ivan Allen College Contributors:
Citation: 1 FULL PAPER. 133 - 141. DOI 10.1145/2516604.2516617.
Related Departments:
  • Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy
  • School of International Affairs