Social Media and Election Violence: Case of Nairobi City County, Kenya (2007-2017)
Akatsa, Kennedy Amimo
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Reintroduction of multiparty politics in Kenya in 1992 bolstered cases of election violence in the country. The 1990s, when Social Media was non-existent, election violence was isolated in the then Rift Valley province. Post-election violence of 2007 was widely covered internationally and was comparatively the worst in Kenya’s election landscape. Social media was first used for political agitation and plotting in 2007 electioneering. Social Media has since become a requisite tool in Kenya’s election landscape. The platform is used by political leaders to spread information, campaign and mobilize. The population preference of Social Media as a source of information poses a challenge to security and unity of the nation as it has been employed to incite hatred and violence. Despite the increasing scale of election violence in the era of Social Media, there is minimal research on the link between Social Media and Election Violence. This study investigated the connection between social media and election violence in Kenya. The target population comprised of voting residents of Nairobi City County, Official Officer of NCIC, Official of CA, Officer from Police Headquarters, leaders of political parties, political parties’ youth leaders and religious leaders. The study was guided by Human Needs theory and the Social Identity theory and adopted a descriptive survey research design. Cluster sampling and purposive sampling method was used to select target areas and obtain respondents from the study population respectively. Key informant interviews, focus group discussions and structured questionnaires were utilized in data collection. Quantitative statistics was evaluated using expressive indicators by adoption of SPSS software and Microsoft excel and presented using percentages and frequency tables whereas qualitative data was evaluated and categorized according to key paradigms that were in the research. Data was thematically analyzed and interpreted based on the research objectives. Verbatim reporting was used qualitative data presentation. The findings of the study are useful to the National and County governments’ institutions, technology companies, and religious groups in mounting policies that will curtail misuse of social media and instead promote its effectiveness in promoting tolerance. The study found that there is a link between the social media activities and political violence in Kenya that mostly takes place before, during and after election.