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Youth and New Media Technologies in Africa: Content Analysis of Online Youth Participation in Nigeria’s 2015 Election

Abstract

For nations with fledgling democracies, social media poses a distinctly unique challenge because of the intense passions aroused by the electoral process. This paper is a content analysis of social media as it is used by young Nigerians engaged with the past presidential election. The focus is chiefly upon Twitter and Facebook, in large part because of their spontaneous and informal nature. Social media is shown to be an excellent leveling device for allowing young Nigerians to express their thoughts and feelings; however, it is far less evident that social media allowed them to organize in a concerted, coherent and massive fashion against the political establishment in 2015. The paper also finds that Twitter seems to allow for more rancorous debate from users, while Facebook allows for more considered and (relatively speaking) more nuanced responses. The youth of Nigeria may struggle, in that respect, to make full use of the digital media as an instrument for amplifying the power and efficacy of incipient ground-up social movements. Ultimately, the digital media appears to be a boon for youth, not least of all because of their relative sophistication using it, but there must be steps taken to find means of using the social media for building the infrastructure of new political movements; it is not enough to simply use the social media as a sounding board.

Genevieve Bosah

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