Social media shutdowns are not new to the African continent. In fact, it’s become the norm in many African countries. The latest concern around social media regulation is in Kenya, where social media platforms is expected to be shut down by the Kenyan government in August due to political elections.
The persons most affected during these shutdowns are journalists and social media activists – whose lifestyles and jobs is centered around sharing, posting , liking and retweeting. It’s become almost impossible for these users to plan ahead or create a fair representation of what is happening on the ground.
This is not only unique to Kenya, but has already hit several other countries this year, including Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Gambia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo. These shutdowns occur mainly around the height of political elections. Despite their being anticipation around possible shutdowns, ad-hoc solutions are insufficient to provide coverage on the elections in the way social media can cover it.
As seen time and time again, when there is a social media shutdown – there are creative alternate solutions in African countries. As we know, WhatsApp is the most popular social media platform in Africa – which is being seen as a viable alternative to other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
It does provide a catch 22 however. It is that the integrity of the information may not always be of the best because information shared in direct platforms are not open to as much scrutiny as when they are posted on public social media platforms. This has given rise to the problem of ‘fake news’.
Read more about the social media regulations happening across the African continent here.