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“Can Facebook make me more violent?” : gauging the effects of using social media as a news source on electoral violence in Kenya and Uganda Ismail, Saleh

Abstract

This thesis aims to assess the relationship between social media usage for news and electoral violence. Using survey evidence of recent Kenyan and Ugandan elections, this thesis will look at the potential indirect effects of social media usage for news on the conditions for electoral violence to take place, namely, mobilization and social interactions as theorized by Yanagizawa-Drott (2014). Using survey evidence, I first I examine the variation in social media usage within Kenya, focusing on the former province of Nyanza and the Western province. I then extend this analysis to Uganda, a country where social media usage is less widespread than Kenya. Finally, I use the Afrobarometer dataset to examine descriptive patterns using regression analysis. Here, I examine the relationship between using social media as a news source and the propensity to protest, the propensity to join others to organize, and fear of violence or intimidation during election cycles, in both Kenya and Uganda. I conclude with a short discussion of the implications of this research, namely, I consider what avenues exist for fledgling democracies and/or unconsolidated regimes in stemming widespread disinformation on online platforms.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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