Political Debate : Disturbing Clashes On Social Media

Some political figures have delved into the misuse of social media networks to settle scores and destroy their opponents.

The social media has come to stay and is gaining considerable grounds in facilitating the democratic process in Cameroon, debate and communication even with the highest personality of the State very often dishing out his messages to the public and his compatriots using  one of the social media outlets , twitter.

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Indeed, modern society cannot operate successfully without the use of social media networks such as WhatsApp, twitter, facebook, Youtube and Instagram. Results on the study of Social Media use in the 2018 Presidential election in Cameroon indicate that in September 2018, the month leading to the election in October, social media use was highest with 104 posts. Candidates used the social media to give detailed reports of their campaigns, display of their manifestos and making maximum use of the available media networks to communicate in order to woo the highest number of voters   to increase their winning chances. Even at moments many political parties and actors use the social media to communicate on their activities.

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Debate in general and political debate in particular is usually interesting and highly animated with the social media playing a great role. However, the interesting and didactic nature of the debate even from the traditional media such as print, radio and television has more and more been misconstrued and deviations become the the day. Debates in the traditional media on issues of interest between political figures have spiralled into heated, hate and embarrassing insults in the social media. The exchanges between the President of the Cameroon Party for National Reconciliation (PCRN), Hon. Cabral Libii and the human rights lawyer, Alice Nkom is just a tip of the iceberg. The debate has led to the creation of camps of supporters of each of the personalities who have resulted to insults and counter insults and revelation of the private lives. Debate here is no longer the exchange to defend one’s point of view with efforts to convince the opponent but that of banal insults.

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Faced with upsurge of the series of clashes on the social media, Cameroon’s political figures and social media users have been calling for restraint and insisting on the use of the social medial to impact the society positively. They all agree that political debate is interesting as it tackles different aspect of national life such as governance, democracy, political evolution of the country but it should be the debate of ideas and not conflictual personal attacks.

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