Event Date and time: Wednesday 21st June, 2017 | 13:00 – 18:00
Venue details: University of Westminster | 309 Regent Street, Regent Street Campus London W1B 2UW
Event cost: Free
Rwanda’s President Kagame is among a growing group of African politicians using social media to leverage their communications with citizens. From Egypt , Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia to South Africa, as well in many other African countries, election candidates are increasingly taking to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp and other platforms to generate viral messages whose influence and scope are yet to be examined. The results and impact of spreadable or viral messages from traditional and social media on elections in Africa are important to consider in relation to changing political, economic and social contexts. There are many issues involved, including those of cost of access for users, politics of ownership of the networks and the impact of viral media cultures on power relations in the democratization process. What has been the impact so far of social media on political institutions, on voter/state/party strategies and exactly how is communicative virality reinforcing or undermining existing power dynamics? What is the current theoretical and empirical evidence on the influence of mediated and non-mediated viral cultures, including jokes, popular music, rumours/pavement ‘radio’, on elections in Africa? How has the immediacy and viral aspects in communication met with heavy-handed regulatory regimes in Africa? What texts and popular imaginations have resulted from engagement with virality at elections in African electoral contexts?
This symposium brings together academics and journalists to discuss the role of social media in elections. The event is timely because there is a growing interest in studying and discussing the linkages between social media, ICTs and democratic participation.