Facts about social media in Ghana

Social media and elections: for better or worse

Social media
social media

As the number of data subscriptions in Ghana rose from 15,804,608 subscribers at the end of February 2015 to 16,106,218 at the end of March 2015 indicating a penetration rate of 59.78 per cent, according to records provided by the National Communications Authority.



The Public Policy Manager of Facebook, Africa, Ms Akua Gyekye, “said the social media platform had come out with an initiative to detect and remove all derogatory content put on it”.
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, says one of the major challenges confronting the commission is the potential for the media to call the results of the December elections ahead of the EC.

“We are going to put in place some measures to contain social media,” the Inspector General of Police(IGP), John Kudalor has said.
“At one stage I was even saying that if it becomes critical on the eve and the election day we shall block all social media as other countries have done. So we are thinking about it,”

“There is therefore the need to set some standards of quality in content for operations of electronic Communication and broadcasting service,” it stated. (Content Standards Regulations, 2015 (L. I. 2224)

BLOGGERS (entamoty.com)
As a result of social media, information have been on our fingertips. 4 out of every 5 Ghanaian youth will tell you they get most of their news stories from social media.

“It is populism, a certain group has taken control of the media in Ghana and it makes it difficult for people to discern the truth. So as much as you are putting out the information, it is either being blocked or distorted,”he said.

A former chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, has called for a national dialogue on how to avert the potential threats social media pose to the country during the 2016 polls.

Subsequently, any inappropriate remark is immediately read and also shared by many people (Smith, 2011). It is important for election candidates and campaign teams to work with professional social media sites experts who monitor the sites who will be able to clean any such viral attack as soon as they are detected.
Source: thebftonline.com


We as transform Ghana wants the general public to see vividly how social media has been entwined in our democracy and deal with all issues as they arise with immediate attention concerning the upcoming elections.
People are turning to social networks, mainly Facebook and Twitter, but this time not to chat with the friends or post a vacation picture but to know about the latest developments of the General elections. The role of social media in politics is increasing day by day. It can really have an impact on the decision making of the people. So is this increasing role of social media in politics is good or has its own share of downsides?

As we all know social media is not an entirely new concept, but in this election season it has played a bigger role in our young democracy than ever in the history of Ghana. The transform Ghana peace project conducted research on the following and have been following closely how our politics is being influenced by Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media and the eventual declaration of the results by the Electoral commission of Ghana in December 2016.

The number of people on social media has recently hit record highs, with 1.13 billion daily active users on Facebook and 313 million monthly active users of Twitter as of June 2016. With these numbers growing every day, it only makes sense that the number of people who get their news from these sources is growing too.

The convenor of transform Ghana Peace Project Steven Blessing Ackah has been following the issues and have some thoughts to share.

Steve: Good morning Steve

Mawuena: This is the big question, of course – has social media made our political discourse better or worse?

Steve: To answer that question, we have to start with the one candidate who dominated social media this year, and that is President John Dramani Mahama. And I bring him up not to discuss him exactly but to discuss his effect on all the other candidates for president.

Mawuena: All right. Give us an example, you know I wont even allow that to happen, we are non partisan.

Mawuena: Do you think the NMC is trying to salvage the situation as best as they could?

Steven: The National Media Commission is collaborating with other institutions such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ghana police service to come up with strategic approaches to to minimise circulation of information on social media rather than ban it on the day of elections.

Mawuena: Is there a possibility that social media can announce the elections before the Electoral commission

Steven: Social media cannot announce the election, the Electoral Commission by constitutional mandate is supposed to announce the outcome of the Elections.Not even the supreme court can announce the elections without a consultation.The social media bloggers association can go far by projecting who won the election after the declaration from the Electoral Commision.

Mawuena: Do you think the police and National Commission on Civic Education has done enough to deter people from abusing social media?

Steven: There is still more work for the NCCE and the police. They need to work hand in hand to deter users and followers of social media by constant education. Secondly I also think the best and concrete way, we can develop is to look at the digital aspect of it. They can develop a software or application that could monitor this mayhem.

Mawuena: Has social media contributed to fear and panic in your view in Ghana?

Steven: Until the 2016 coming elections, We have not experienced a full contribution of social media when it comes to elections in Ghana. This is because in the 2012 elections Ghanians were green in the aspect of social media.However other matters where social media play full engagement has proven beyond doubt, that if care is not taken, it can create fear and panic. A good example is how people are playing around the balloting papers that was released by the Electoral Commission not long ago.

Mawuena: With all this fake posts on whats app groups, face book and twitter we receive everyday, in your own estimation do you think it can be minimised or controlled before it causes any harm.

Steven: It can be minimised if the laws are working. Remember no one is above the law. Force will be applied on anything that does not comply with the law.

Mawuena: Giving a scenario If there is a circulation on Dec 8th on social media about a particular candidate winning. What do yo think will be the outcome and how ready are we as a country to correct that.

Steven: Nobody in Ghana can create a social media related violence, I state this categorically. Unless the laws are not in place and I trust the laws to work any day.

Mawuena: What is your best social media platform and why?

Steven: Wow thats a question of a kind. I believe its twitter, why because its meant for like minded people and a platform where africans have not explored.

Mawuena: What possibly could go wrong in respect to social media in Ghana?

Steven: Users who take the law into their own hands may be at the court. I don’t see anything going wrong generally.

Mawuena: As a Peace and security expert, with all the facts that are our out there what will be your advice to the youth of Ghana
Steven: Stay through to authentic, credible and reliable information. In all I would say that Everything that creates dialogue can help improve the system

No matter what Politics was and politics is going to stay a numbers game. The real impact can only be seen when it will be successful to move the numbers in this General elections. Social media if used properly will certainly add to the vote bank but the other side of picture will always stay.

Source: Steven Ackah

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