African countries are resorting to the use of restrictions on online free speech in order to control the exploitation of social media platforms. Advocates of online platforms debate that these channels have been a media to spread awareness and promote revolutionary ideas across the globe. Furthermore, the political circles have also shown a sense of accountability towards the public as a result of social media uprisings against unfair or unjust practices. However, a contrary standpoint holds that the presence of online bullies, social media hooligans, and rumour mongers is a matter of concern. Countries such as Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, and Uganda have already made laws with regards to social media usage.
Effectuating Change through Legislations
The governments of the aforementioned countries believe that the presence of national radicals and jingoists poses a threat to the harmony of the country. These elements could mobilise huge mobs on the internet and disturb the dynamics of the political setup, and hence, there is a need to pass strict laws relating to social media usage. These countries have imposed laws that criminalise online free speech, and have also increased the prices incurred by users on social media usage.
Growing Social Media Usage
Despite the stipulation of these rules, the use of social media platforms has been increasing across Africa. This owes to the pervasiveness of Facebook. Whatsapp, and Twitter, and the role played by these channels in promoting free speech, dialogue, and discussion. Moreover, discussion of political feats often goes viral on social media channels and gets more traction from the authorities.