Through the Eyes of Social Media
The functions of social media have transformed into something we have never anticipated. Many people are engaging in the interconnectivity of social sites. These social sites include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. New applications appear every day. My topic will discuss how social media has impacted the country of Nigeria. After reading Chris Abani’s Graceland, I began to wonder how social media is used in Nigeria. Is social media a tool for political engagement in Nigeria? Does social media help Nigerian militant groups recruit people? Lastly, I will discuss the globalization of social media in Nigeria. Has it helped spread critical information to surrounding countries? My definition of globalization is the linkage of global networks. These global networks reach out to each other and extract valuable information.
Let me begin by explaining the political matter over social media. According to Kermeliotis, “Activists use social media to condemn proposed law they say would ‘infringe freedom of speech’ if passed” (2015). This article explains how tech professionals, rights groups, and web activists in Nigeria are joining forces to reject a proposed bill. These groups claim that this bill will limit the public’s freedom of expression. The bill was created by the All People’s Congress party in Nigeria. Proposed by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, the bill explains that in order to start a petition, you need an affidavit stating that the content is true. People have to swear that their content is true in a court of law. The people of Nigeria that oppose this bill have expressed their concerns. People use WhatsApp and Twitter to expose crooked Nigerian politicians. Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian political commentator and blogger states, “It is an infringement on our right of free speech. Once you gag people’s right to speak freely, you place a mental shackle on the subconscious mind where they must think twice before challenging state authorities” (2015). This article proves that social media is a tool for engaging in politics.
Recently, journalists have documented the increasing use of social media to support militant groups. The main militant group that plagues Nigeria is Boko Haram. According to BBC, Boko Haram is a “Nigerian jihadist group” (2015). This radical group is utilizing social media to spread their influence. BBC states that, “an Arabic-language Twitter account purporting to be the official outlet for a new Boko Haram media group called Al-Urwah al-Wuthqa was launched and immediately promoted by key pro-IS media operatives” (2015). This sentence also points out the linkage between radical religious groups. IS stands for Islamic State and was formerly known as Isis according to BBC. Boko Haram is using exploitation skills to influence propaganda. For instance, the launch of the Boko Haram Twitter account has streamed several videos to show the public its success on the ground. BBC explains that the video quality continues to improve. The use of multiple languages for Boko Haram’s videos suggest that the group may have help from Isis media operatives. An example video of this group includes the beheading of two Nigerians. Boko Haram, claimed these Nigerians to be spies. Another video represents the group’s ideology, tactics and future plans. The development of these social media sites have helped Nigerian militant groups recruit people. All it takes is one follower to spread the word.
But does social media help spread critical information to other countries? According to Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji, “Nigeria’s experience over the last few months, though, shows that social media and other technology can help light the way toward a more peaceful, democratic future for developing nations” (2015). This article discusses the positive use of social media in Nigeria. Before the massive usage of social media sites, Nigeria had a brutal history of election-related violence. According to this article, violence occurred because people were not informed. Social media connects and informs people on a global scale. Western territories such as the United States and Canada are now aware of events in Nigeria. A prime example is the kidnapping of 300 female students in Nigeria. Brian Ries explains, “The girls were relaxing in their dorms at the Government Girls Secondary School in the Northern town of Chibok when gunmen arrived in trucks, cars and on motorcycles” (2014). Social media has unfurled this conflict, making outside countries aware of this horrific incident. The article explains that “a hashtag associated with their disappearance has been tweeted nearly 1 million times” (2014). This hashtag has helped to create a petition. This petition calls for the Nigerian government to enable all international parties to help rescue the girls. To commensurate with this article, 250,000 have the signed the petition.
In conclusion, these examples illustrate how social media plays a role in Nigerian politics. The “social” aspect in social media will continue to grow among the people in Nigeria. Social media has transformed into political tools, increased global awareness, and offered a quicker way to spread information. Social media continues to sprout among the public in Nigeria. According to Frankie Edozien, “Nigeria has one of the fastest growing Internet penetration rates. Last year alone it added 10 million new internet users to have around 75 million Internet users now” (2015). This usage of social media reverberates around the world and lets us interconnect, though it also has negative effects. People have the power to abuse social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote radical ideas. Social media will continue to express Nigerian opinions and increase the consciousness of the population in Nigeria.
Edozien, Frankie. "Social Media Was the Other Big Winner at Nigeria’s Historic Elections." Quartz, 7 Apr. 2015. Web.
Kermeliotis, Teo. "Proposed Social Media Bill under Fire in Nigeria." Al Jazeera, 4 Dec. 2015. Web.
Monitoring, BBC. "Is Islamic State Shaping Boko Haram Media?" BBC News, 4 Mar. 2015. Web.
Ries, Brian. "Why the World Is Finally Talking About Nigeria's Kidnapped Girls." Mashable, 6 May 2014. Web.