Social Media Networks: Increasingly Becoming Instruments For Tribalism
Some users of the social media networks in 2018 spread fake, hate and divisive information that threatened the policy of national unity, living together and common prosperity.
The year 2018 will forever be remembered in Cameroon as one in which people from all the vertical and horizontal strata of the society effectively used social media outlets such as facebook, WhatsApp, twitter and Instagam to convey messages of all sorts.
While politicians, especially the nine candidates in the October 7, 2018 presidential election left indelible marks in their use of social media for their campaigns, some political figures used the same social media networks to stigmatise some candidates tagging their belonging to and also describing them as candidates of some ethnic groups or regions. Equally through the social media networks, a handful of opposition politicians spread information that the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) was promoting and instituting tribalism at the helm of power to better reign.
Never in history has Cameroon ever been attacked like in 2018. The secessionists fighters and their leaders in the English-speaking North West and South West Regions variously used social media networks to galvanise support and gain pity through hate messages. Information, photographs and videos they broadcast in especially facebook and WhatsApp were intended to stir the population of these two regions to hate the other Cameroonians whom they accuse of staging a genocide. Not only do these secessionists preach hate against people of the French-speaking part of the country but equally fabricate and disseminate fake information intended to pit the population of the North West and South West Regions against their elite. The immediate consequences have been burning down of houses and other property of mostly the political and economic elite of the North West and South West Regions back in their native villages.
The havoc caused through social media networks got to the peak and caused government to hold talks with Facebook officials in August 2018 in Yaounde to seek ways of halting the spread of fake news.