Understanding the Implications of Social Media Usage in the Electoral Processes and Campaigns in Nigeria
This paper sheds light on the implications of social media usage in the Nigerian electioneering campaigns and political processes. This study is anchored on the agenda setting and uses and gratification theory. Findings suggest that in the Nigerian 2015 and 2011 general elections, social media was employed due to its participatory nature. It was used as a platform for political campaign organization, electioneering crusades, ideological trumpeting exercises, and mobilization of voters. Specifically, in the 2015 elections, it was found that during the collation of results, citizen journalists and the civil society used social media to inform the public as regards the results in several states across the country. Social media was thus applied to influence the thoughts of many young people, increasing their political awareness and cognizance, which in turn resulted in an unbelievable presidential win of the opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) over the ruling party People's Democratic Party (PDP). Conversely, social media were also used as a weapon to undermine and even destroy the image of political parties. Character assassination, violence, and abuses (hate) speeches were carried out, which further increased the divide between the North and Southern part of the country. This study recommends that political messages should be based on truth and full of information that will enable the electorate to make a proper decision that will assist in bringing the right people into governance. Future investigators are required to examine computational propaganda in electioneering campaigns in Nigeria.
Apuke OD, Tunca EA