Social media, Keyboard Disruptors, and Fake Protesters during protest movements in Nigeria

Temple Uwalaka, Bigman Nwala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social media platforms continue to flourish as practices encompassing them become deeply embedded in many cultures. As more people embrace social media platforms, their affordances and opportunities are leading to improved communication, and helping hold authorities to account. While social media do help to hold authorities to account, those in leadership roles are beginning to use these platforms to bolster their perverse objectives. To understand the latter better, this study aims to examine methods that the Nigerian authorities adopted to discredit, disrupt, and conceal the killing of protesters during the 2020 #EndSARS protests in Nigeria. This study adopts a mixed methods approach comprising of qualitative content analysis of tweets and replies (N=10,622) regarding critical and counter tweets about the protests, and responses from a semi-structured interview (N=20) of ‘fake protesters’ during the 2020 #EndSARS protests. Findings show that the Nigerian authorities adopted a two-throng approach of using hoodlums to perpetrate violence with the hope of destabilizing the protests, and used influencers and celebrities online to disrupt, destabilize and conceal the killing of protesters during the 2020 #EndSARS protests in Nigeria. The paper contributes to knowledge in three ways. First, it empirically conceptualizes Keyboard Disruptors. Second, the paper uncovers that while social media platforms have decentralized communicability, that they, however, have improved the capabilities of the authorities in the dissemination of propagandistic materials as well as having the capabilities to repress a protest movement. Third, the study delineates a typology of protest disruption tactics during the 2020 #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalNew Media and Mass Communication
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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