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  Social media, defined as digital platforms where users create, share, and interact with content, has significantly transformed how people communicate and engage with information globally. Social media in Nigerian politics has emerged as a powerful tool in shaping political discourse and fostering activism.
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With platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, citizens have found new ways to voice their opinions, organize movements, and hold the government accountable. From the #EndSARS protests to election campaigns, social media has played a crucial role in amplifying the voices of Nigerians and driving change. This post will explore the influence of social media on Nigerian politics and activism, examining its impact, benefits, and challenges.

The Role of Social Media in Nigerian Politics and Activism

Social media has significantly transformed the political landscape in Nigeria, serving as a powerful tool for political engagement and activism. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become essential in political campaigns, voter mobilization, and the promotion of transparency and accountability in governance.

Political Campaigns

One of the most notable impacts of social media on Nigerian politics is its role in political campaigns. Candidates use social media to reach a wider audience, share their policies, and engage directly with voters. For instance, during the 2015 presidential election, candidates effectively used social media to vie for votes. The 2023 general elections were no exception, as Nigerians used hashtags such as #PeterObi4President to communicate with the electorate, illustrating the power of social media in political messaging.

Engagement And Mobilization

Social media has also played a crucial role in voter engagement and mobilization. The #NigeriaDecides movement during the 2019 and 2023 general elections saw a surge in young voter turnout, driven by vibrant discussions and calls for participation on platforms like Twitter. This highlights social media’s ability to galvanize previously disengaged demographics and increase political participation.
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Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism facilitated by social media has transformed political reporting in Nigeria. Ordinary citizens now capture and share real-time footage of political events, often exposing corruption and electoral malpractices. The #EndSARS protests in 2020 are a prime example, where social media played a pivotal role in highlighting police brutality and pressuring the government to address these issues. The 2023 general elections saw an unprecedented level of engagement on social media. Political candidates, parties, and citizens utilized social media to share information, campaign, and debate policies. Social media facilitated a more inclusive political dialogue, allowing voices from all sections of society to be heard.

The Challenges

However, social media’s influence is not without challenges. The spread of misinformation and disinformation is a significant concern. During election periods, political strategists have been known to weaponize social media by spreading fake news to delegitimize opponents or manipulate voter perceptions. This was evident in the 2023 general elections, where systematic misinformation campaigns and the use of “deep fakes” were rampant. Efforts to combat misinformation include media literacy programs, fact-checking initiatives, and collaboration with technology companies on content moderation. Fact-checking groups like FactCheck Elections and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) are actively working to identify and debunk false information in real time, helping to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
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Social media has changed political engagement and activism in Nigeria. It has provided a platform for citizens to express their views, mobilize support, and demand accountability from their leaders. While it offers numerous benefits such as increased political awareness and participation, social media also presents challenges like the spread of misinformation and online harassment. Despite these challenges, its role in fostering a more informed and active citizenry is undeniable.
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This article was first published on 23rd May 2024

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