Social Media as a Battleground for Electoral Violence among Netizens in Africa: The Case of Kenyan Youth
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There is a rise in unprecedented political infractions, disturbances and electoral violence in Africa with the youth playing a significant role. Thus, the study broadly investigated social media use and electoral violence among the youth in Kenya using two objectives that were to assess the use of social media platforms among the youth and to investigate the relationship between social media use and electoral violence among the youth. Guided by the Dependency Theory and the Social Responsibility Theory, the study was carried out in Mathare Constituency, Nairobi County, Kenya. Data collection involved questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Analysis of quantitative data was by descriptive statistics and regression while qualitative data was analyzed through transcription. The study findings showed that the use of social media platforms in communication has been growing with WhatsApp becoming the most ‘preferred’ platform in Kenya. The study outcome exposed the fact that social media had an important and positive effect on electoral violence among the Kenyan youth in Mathare (R = .812). On the other hand, social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram) had a strong explanatory strength on electoral violence among the Kenyan youth in Mathare (R2 = .659). This means that social media accounts for 65.9 percent of electoral violence among the Kenyan youth in Mathare Constituency, Nairobi County. The study, therefore, concluded that there is a relationship between social media and electoral violence among the Kenyan youth in Mathare. The study finally recommends that the government should embrace and enforce self-regulation mechanisms by Internet service providers to deter incitement. In addition, there should be increased efforts to educate and inform Internet users on the importance of assessing the credibility of information. Promotion of productive engagement as an effective instrument of dealing with online hatred is key.