Social Media Helps Curb Nigerian Election Deathtoll

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  • Michael Best Michael Best

Nunn School professor Michael L. Best was cited in an article on PCWorld discussing the effect social media has had on limiting violence surrounding the recent Nigerian presidential and parliamentary elections, which were the most peaceful in Nigeria since the nation embraced democracy in 1999.

“I do believe that the capacity for social media to connect and inform helped Nigeria conduct a free and fair election and helped to keep violence to a minimum,” said Michael Best via email. "Of course, these technologies are not silver bullets nor do they always contribute to positive elements within a democracy. But during the recent Nigerian elections, our experience monitoring social media over our media aggregation platform, named ‘Aggie,’ demonstrated the power of these technologies can be used for good.”

Along with Thomas Smyth from Sassafras Tech Collective, a worker-owned tech co-op in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Best published a qualitative dual case study, “Tweet to Trust: Social Media and Elections in West Africa,” about social media use during the general elections in Nigeria and Liberia in 2011.

In addition to remarking on media's effect during Nigerian elections, Best noted that the use of social media and technology such as electronic voting systems should not be considered a panacea.

“Electronic voting systems can be beneficial if correctly designed and deployed but too often they are actually detrimental due to lack of smart engineering and weak deployments,” Best said. “Across many parts of the United States, for instance, badly designed e-voting machines have actually reduced the transparency and accountability of that nation’s elections.”

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Dr. Michael L. Best is an associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, where he directs the Technologies and International Development Lab. He is also a faculty associate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the widely read journal, Information Technologies and International Development.

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Student and Faculty
nigeria, Nunn School, PCWorld, press, social media, Technology, violence, voting
  • Created By: Beth Godfrey
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: May 4, 2015 - 8:14am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:27pm