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Extreme Speech During Online Political Communication in Kenya

Institutions & Governance Kenya
Nairobi bus and cityscape

Nairobi, Kenya (January 2019) Photo Credit: Alexandra Wall

Online political discourse in Kenya is characterized by political polarization based on ethnic identity. This political polarization can manifest as physical aggression, but it can also be expressed through social networking sites as extreme speech. This study will look at the phenomena of the normalization of extreme speech in social media. In particular, this study will examine the characteristics and attitudes of respondents who engage in political discourse, whether social media users choose a particular social media platform based on their personal or group identity, and how media gratification can have a “spiraling effect” (where the user chooses a communication medium based on perceived gratification, which leads to them choosing it again and subsequent normalization).

The authors will analyze content using the official Facebook pages of the President and the Official Opposition leader in periods after major political events that have brought about increased social media use in political conversations, as well as a survey that will be administered to the respondents whose comments have been flagged as containing extreme speech. Results of this study are forthcoming.

  • Jay Muia Mutinda
  • Robert Aswani

2020 — ongoing

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