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Digital Battleground

How Platforms Like X (formerly Twitter) are Shaping Modern Political Discourse

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The Digital Battleground: Social Media and Political Accountability

In a striking illustration of the evolving role of social media in politics, Kenya’s President William Ruto issued an apology for police brutality during an online forum with anti-tax protesters on X (formerly Twitter) on July 5. The apology came in response to Kevin Monari, a protest leader who recounted his abduction by security forces during demonstrations that resulted in at least 39 deaths.

These protests, organized through X Spaces—a feature that enables live audio conversations—highlight the increasing influence of digital platforms in mobilizing and amplifying public dissent. Persistent online pressure forced President Ruto to retract a critical finance bill, showcasing the formidable power of social media-driven activism.

A similar scenario unfolded in Nigeria in 2020 when youth protests against the SARS police unit, notorious for extortion and extrajudicial killings, surged from online hashtags to deadly street demonstrations. These events marked a significant moment for young Nigerians, demonstrating social media’s potential to transform online outrage into real-world action.

These incidents raise an essential question: Is social media becoming the new battleground for political accountability? The ability for citizens to directly engage with political leaders and organize mass movements online represents a significant shift from traditional protest methods.

Ghana’s former president and 2024 presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama, has also embraced this digital trend, planning to host live engagement sessions with journalists on social media. These engagements underscore how digital communication is reshaping the political landscape, offering a transparent and unfiltered medium for accountability.

As more Gen Z activists leverage social media to drive change, the dynamics of political accountability are being fundamentally altered. Social media platforms are emerging as critical tools for political engagement, transforming how leaders interact with citizens and respond to public grievances.

Digital Battleground

Ugandan TikToker Jailed for Six Years for Insulting President Museveni

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A Ugandan TikToker receives a six-year prison sentence for insulting President Yoweri Museveni on TikTok, highlighting Uganda’s strict stance on social media dissent and sparking human rights debates.

In a controversial ruling, a Ugandan court sentenced 24-year-old Edward Awebwa to six years in prison for insulting President Yoweri Museveni and his family on TikTok.

Charged with hate speech and spreading “misleading and malicious” information, Awebwa’s videos mocked the president and predicted tax hikes. Despite pleading guilty and asking for forgiveness, Magistrate Stella Maris Amabilis deemed him unremorseful and handed down a concurrent six-year sentence for each of the four charges.

This harsh punishment underscores Uganda’s crackdown on social media dissent, drawing criticism from human rights activists who have challenged the repressive Computer Misuse Act of 2022 in the Constitutional Court.

 

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