Tech Bytes Podcast #7: Can social media influence the 2023 elections?

Godfrey Elimian
“Social Media is just like a gong that doesn’t hold sway in its real essence”

The seventh episode of Technext’s podcast series, Tech Bytes, featured a round desk discussion with in-house analysts and journalists on a topic of interest (Social media‘s role in electioneering in Africa), as a build-up to the election in 2023.

This episode started with conversations on trending topics making the rounds in Africa, especially Africa day, which was last week.

The conversations bothered the CAR launch of the $1 billion crypto investment hub, Ghana becoming the first West Africa country to have a low earth orbit satellite gateway station, a report of a widespread insider trading on Binance and Coinbase, and the re-emergence of Abeg and Flutterwave as BBN sponsors.

The main conversation was on the influence of social media in Nigerian politics, citing examples of the power of social media as the 2023 election draws closer.

You can listen to the full episode below:

Can Social Media Influence elections in Africa?

See excerpts:

Social media's influence in the electioneering process in Africa
The role of Social media in electioneering process in Africa – Tech Bytes ep 7

Picking up the topic, one of the in-house speakers, Da-ala Mirilla Dennis, a social tech writer agrees that social media plays a big role in elections. Although, he said if he was asked the same question a few months back, he would disagree.

All the speakers agree that with the evolving climate around Nigerian politics, especially the events shaping it, the supporters who have made use of the platform to voice out other issues recently, the influence it has cannot be overemphasised.

Social media has become a real tool, with the emergence of influencers, Spaces, Clubhouses and discussions on social media, yea, it has great influence in outcomes right now

Da-ala Mirilla Dennis, Social tech writer

Another speaker, Damilare Akinpelu, a social media expert and publicist, explained that although social media appears to be a loud gong during election periods, they hold no sway at the end given the outcomes of these elections in the past.

According to him, given that Nigerians are beginning to leverage various platforms to push for issues pertaining to governance and accountability, maybe this time around, social media would be a useful tool of influence. “I am uncertain of the role,” he said.

Onyinye Okonkwo, a journalist disagrees saying that elections are not won on social media, and In Africa for that matter. She claims the majority of voters in Africa are not on social media. She added that the ‘noise’ on those platforms remains on there.

Decision-makers are not moved by the noise on social platforms and will make their decision irrespective of what emanates from social media

Onyinye okonkwo, Journalist

In response to the effect of social platforms during the #ENDSars protest, Onyinye claims that the periods and circumstances differ given that there was a uniform voice and agreement at that time. Nigerians have different voices when it comes to who leads them.

The political landscape has indeed changed in the last couple of decades. The internet has played a large role in this transformation. Social platforms are now a serious factor in political campaigns and in the way people gather information and make decisions.

Candidates and their supporters constantly make posts about their preferences, as in the case of Peter Obi. Each party has its own pages, from which it broadcasts propaganda.

Besides that, one of the ways social media has transformed Nigerian politics is the speed at which news, poll results and rumours are shared. We no longer have to wait for traditional platforms to write elaborate pieces before we know the news.

But, do social platforms influence decisions at the polls?

Listen to the podcast to get the full conversation.

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