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1. A National Tendency: Questions and Assumptions

- Mass Media (Traditional, Prevailing and Contemporary Thoughts)

- Democracy and Political Campaign

2. Literature Review (New Media / In Nigeria)

- The Facebook Story

- President Goodluck Jonathan on Facebook

- Presidential Campaign Activities on Facebook

- Politicking on Facebook

3. Theoretical Framework

- Theory of the Public Sphere

- Uses and Gratifications Theory

- Technological/Media Determinism

4. Methodology and Questionaire Analysis

- Results and Findings

5. Discussion and Conclusion




This seminar paper has evaluated the emergence of new media as it affects public consciousness in urban Nigeria; how it drives civic activism as well as inspires political discourse. It has traced the use of new media technology with a deliberate focus on Facebook, a 600-million-strong American online platform that has been made available in many languages across the world and which has millions of Nigerians at home and abroad socialising and networking on and through it as users/subscribers/members. This paper is a research effort into how new media use affects society and vice versa. It is an investigation into the history and socio-scientific implications of Technological/Media Determinism, Public Sphere and the Uses and Gratification theories as its theoretical framework and has applied its dictates to the phenomenon of new media and society. Various aspects of Facebook use and applications were examined, including access, deliberation and group mobilization functions of the platform. Qualitative and quantitative methods were applied in this research. A random sampling of the responses of Nigerian Facebook users was conducted, and this led to the drawing of specific conclusions in evaluating the potentials of the Internet generally, and Facebook in particular, as effective new media platforms that portend well for the growth and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Findings also showed that Facebook can be used to influence and boost better democratic consciousness by all stakeholders - the Nigerian electorate, civic activists, politicians, political parties and government can exploit this Internet-based social network to greatly improve the mass communication process as it impacts democracy.



In Nigeria, there is an eagerness to own Internet-ready, wifi-enabled telephones even when the owners can barely feed, clothe and house themselves. This fad unfortunately is still limited to only a small fraction of the population. From the start, it is clear that regardless of the number of Nigerians that may use Facebook to advance their views on democracy and political preferences, they are still a diverse minority and they do not as yet represent the common man or average Nigerian nor do they form a microcosm of the voting population.

Nonetheless, they are a growing fraction and a significant part of Nigeria’s skilled workforce as well as pool of opinion shapers in their various communities. Instead of buying books and newspapers these days, they buy airtime for mobile telephony and cybercafe use and in no time, they are seen getting ‘very busy’ on Internet-enabled netbooks, laptops, desktops and cell phones, surfing on mega-sized social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Smart politicians and their campaign strategists know this and they now canvas for electoral votes online. Behind this project lies a socio-scientific curiousity to unearth the motivation of a growing mass of Nigerians who have become hyperactive online addicts in a country that is touted to be educationally hamstrung despite its huge population size and growing number of institutions of higher learning.

The CIA World Fact Book puts the population of Nigeria at 149,229,090 (July 2009 estimates). In 2005, the United Nations estimated that it was 141


million and predicted that it would reach 289 million by 2050 while the United States Census Bureau projects 264 million by the same year. 1

However, official 2006 figures released by Nigeria’s National Population Commission states that there are more males (71,345,488) than females (69,086,302) in Nigeria, totalling 140,431,790. 2 Given this census data as background, we can begin to contemplate the sheer gross of potential voters in the 2011 democratic process held in Nigeria, where apart from claims of official disenfrachisement by some citizens given the maladies of incessant voter registration exercises, there is still widespread apathy against participation in democracy among millions of eligible Nigerians.

Attahiru Jega, a university professor and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was the man saddled with the responsibility of registering eligible Nigerian voters as well as conducting credible general elections in 2011 in order to protect and sustain Nigeria’s nascent democracy. Voters, parties and election observers were the ones to decide if INEC operations, strategies, database and conduct could be trusted and competent enough to put a stamp of credibility upon the 2011 presidential elections.

Vanguard newspapers, a major daily tabloid, had this to report: On March 3, 2011, INEC released the “final figure of 73.58 million registered voters” as its “authentic” national register of voters for Nigeria. The Commission had earlier released the “provisional” figure of 67.7 million registered voters. Since the “final” figure of 73.58 million registered voters was released and certified by the Commission, independent experts have continued

1 World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision Population Database 2 Retrieved on March 21, 2011


to pick holes in the authenticity of the figure with respect to demographic reflection of the figures. The main criticism trailing the release of the “final” figure was that the Commission released to the public a bogus, inflated, raw, unprocessed, unverified, disputable and questionable as well as unscientific registration figures in the form of a “new National Register of Voters” to be used in the April 2011 general elections.

For instance, the released and displayed figures represent unprocessed registration data which has not been subjected to the compulsory process of “aggregation and vetting”, also called Automated Fingerprint Identification System, AFIS. The AFIS process is meant to verify the data of voters downloaded from the Direct Data Capture, DDC machine. When AFIS audit is done as required by the voters’ registration process, each Resident Electoral Commissioner is supposed to come up with three sets of voters’ register:

1. Valid Register, which is a register of voters with proper registration

having all the correct biometrics in place.

2. AO_Valid Register, which is a register of purported voters whose

fingerprints and other biometrics were not captured during the registration exercise.

3. Invalid Register, which is a register of those voters identified to have

done multiple registrations. The Commission appears to have presented to the Nigerian public the AO_ Valid Register and the Invalid Register and jettisoned the AFIS_processed valid register. Generally, AFIS is meant to identify and weed out those who fraudulently engaged in multiple registrations and other


fraudulent registration processes. When AFIS process is successfully applied, the figures usually go down after fraudulent figures are weeded or cleaned up. 3

Vanguard as a vehicle of the Nigerian mass media has captured here the thinking of a people. The newspaper report confirms the distrust with which the Nigerian society already preempts the outcome of the forthcoming 2011 elections, the success of which is quite critical to democratic continuity and good governance in Africa’s most populous country.


1. How is Facebook used by Nigerians in facilitating civic participation?

2. How does the use of Facebook help engender democratic awareness,

participation and development in Nigeria?

3. Is institutional control and monitoring of Facebook done, and can Facebook

be used to insist on good governance in Nigeria?

4. What possible negatives exist in this communication process, and

more can be done to improve the symbiosis between online mass media (Facebook in particular) and the Nigerian society?


5. Has Facebook technology simply modified the Nigerian society or has the

Nigerian society in turn inspired a modification of Facebook technology with review implications for media determinism as a communication theory?

These are some of the questions, this research work tries to answer.

3’s-73-58m-registered-voters-need-verification/ Published in print and posted online on March 10, 2011. Retrieved on March 21, 2011
















1. That the sheer mass of spatio-temporally diversified audiences being reached by Facebook, plus the quantum of information transactions on this online media vehicle upgrades it from being mere ‘Personal Media’ to the sphere of ‘Mass Media’ and by its utility value, it has become a huge part of the ‘Mass Communication’ process.

2. That a significant enough mass of politically aware Nigerians – both the political office seekers and eligible voters as well as opinion shapers who may not necessarily vote in the 2011 elections use Facebook for a myriad of personal, socio-economic, political and corporate reasons that ultimately position them for relevance in the democratic process.

3. That the many community-building applications on Facebook make it even more indispensable as a campaign tool for politics, religion, marketing and other inter-personal uses on a massive scale that has far- reaching implications for the traditional mass media.

4. That Mass Communication theories, theorists, theoreticians, philosophers and hands-on mass media practitioners are not too dogmatic as not to see the need to re-assess traditional communication theories in ways that recognise change; new technologies and the twin evolution of mass media systems and societies across the globe.


5. That there is slow, sluggish but growing political awareness and willingness on the part of the Nigerian electorate to embrace new media and information communication technology, ICT, as a relatively safe and reliable confluence of ideas, opinions and aspirations about building lasting democratic structures in Nigeria.


Traditional mass media include newspapers, magazines, periodicals, television and radio, while the modern (or new) mass media are the Internet a.k.a. www (World Wide Web); Mobile devices like cellphones, iModes, iPods and most recently, iPads; Interactive Kiosks and Interactive TV. 4 Potter W. James (2008) posits even as the Oxford dictionary confirms that mass media refers to all med ia technologies, including newspapers, Internet, television and radio, which are used for mass communication, and to the organisations which control these technologies. 5 6 Lorimer, Rowland & Scannell, Patty (1994) in assessing the communication process, point out that the mass media play a significant role in shaping public perceptions on a variety of important issues, both through the information that is dispensed through them, and through the interpretations they place upon this information. 7 They also play a large role in shaping modern culture, by selecting and portraying a particular set of beliefs, values, and traditions (an entire way of life) as reality. That is, by portraying a certain

4 Retrieved on March 21, 2011

5 “Mass Media,” Oxford English Dictionary, online version November 2010

6 Potter, W. James (2008). Arguing for a General Framework for Mass Media Scholarship. SAGE. p. 32. ISBN 9781412964715

7 Lorimer, Rowland & Scannell, Patty (1994). Mass Communications: A Comparative Introduction. Manchester University Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 9780719039461


interpretation of reality, mass media shape reality to be more in line with that interpretation. 8 There is no doubt that any political campaign strategist that goes to Facebook to court favour from registered voters should also be interested in imparting his own interpretations of the polity – its problems and solutions as desired by the public – into the mindset of voters. Herein lies the issues of power and control exerted by and through the mass media. According to Yomi Daramola (2008) the mass media system is a powerful institution in a modern society because it is also a means by which other institutions make their power felt. By infuencing the content of the mass media system, other institutions in society attempt to use media for their own ends. Mass media power derives primarily from their ability to spread information, ideas, messages and so forth to multitudes of people over large and wide territories within a relatively short time. 9


Democracy is a legislative system in which all citizens are meant to exercise direct and equal participation in the development, proposal and passage of legislation into law. The term which is originally Greek (demokratia) means ‘rule of the people’ 10 and it was coined from (demos) that is ‘people’ as well as (Kratos) that is ‘power’ in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote

8 Vipond, Mary (2000). The Mass Media in Canada. James Lorimer & Company. p. 88. ISBN 9781550287141 9 Daramola, Yomi, Ph.D (2008). ‘Mass Media and Society in Nigeria: Selected Functional Perspectives’ published in Mass Media and Society: A Multi-perspective Approach p.36; edited by Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, Ph.D, FNIPR, FNGE. ISBN 978-2283-97-5 10 Demokratia, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon" at Perseus (en wikipedia)


the political systems then existing in some major Greek city-states, especially Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC. Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to the legislative process. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution. 11 12 A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. The message of the campaign contains the ideas that the candidate wants to share with the voters. The message often consists of several talking points about policy issues. The points summarize the main ideas of the campaign and are repeated frequently in order to create a lasting impression with the voters. In many elections, the opposition party will try to get the candidate "off message" by bringing up policy or personal questions that are not related to the talking points. Most campaigns prefer to keep the message broad in order to attract the most potential voters. A message that is too narrow can alienate voters or slow the candidate down with explaining details. For example, in the election of 2008 John McCain originally used a message that focused on his patriotism

11 R. Alan Dahl, I. Shapiro, J. A. Cheibub, The Democracy Sourcebook, MIT Press 2003, ISBN


12 M. Henaff, T. B. Strong, Public Space and Democracy, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN



and political experience: "Country First"; later the message was changed to shift attention to his role as "The Original Maverick" within the political establishment. Barack Obama ran on a consistent, simple message of "change" throughout his campaign. If the message is crafted carefully, it will assure the candidate a victory at the polls. For a winning candidate, the message is refined and then becomes his or her political agenda in office. 13 Any candidate running for a position in an election will need to have a campaign strategy or a gamut of strategies in order to be successful. Charisma or oratory is not enough for a candidate to win the electoral race. It can also depend on how campaign workers do their job or how dedicated they are to getting their principal in the number one position. Nigeria is a large country and anyone running for a nationwide position, such as the presidency or even a seat in the National Assembly, needs a large army of campaign workers to do the job of providing information about the candidate to as many people as possible. 14 In the world of politics, one needs a wide network to win. The number of campaign workers necessary to run a successful campaign depends on the coverage of the election a political candidate is running. Today, new media, especially the Internet, is gradually reducing the need for large human armies as foot soldiers and is replacing them with armies of social media networks with Twitter, Linked-in and Facebook as three of the most celebrated hubs for such mass communication, albeit political, activitivies.

13 Retrieved on March 24, 2011

14 Retrieved on March 15,



Africa Online (Afrique en ligne), a web-based publication retrieved at midnight on March 25, 2011 captured the political palpitations of Nigeria in an article titled “2011 Nigeria election: Presidential Candidates and Their Campaigns.”It reported that the political atmosphere in Nigeria is charged because while people are excited about choosing their next president, 36 governors, senators and numerous representatives at state and local government levels, only few people have confidence in the electoral system. “The contest for who occupies the exalted office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is undoubtedly democratic, however, the temperaments of some of the candidates and utterances so far are a major source of concern to most watchers. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had warned that it would not tolerate any act of lawlessness and tendencies that are capable of undermining the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming elections. Hence, the various political parties were compelled by the INEC to sign a Code of Conduct which would be binding on all the parties, with a view to ensuring that elections are violence free” Africa Online news magazine reported. 15 Contrary to the distrust, corruption, violence and palpable anticipation of mass rigging and electoral fraud that pervades the political space in Nigeria, political campaigns and political communication patterns in advanced democracies, particularly, in the United States of America, are radically different. In the US, presidential, governorship, parliamentary and other electioneering processes are issues-driven. People take out time to watch and listen to their candidates as they exhibit their understanding of the economy,

15 their-campaigns-201103225863.html. Retrieved on March 25, 2011


security and welfare as they go on air (radio and television) and on printed pages (newspapers and magazines) and on the Internet-based social media networks to market their parties, programmes and policies. Oration and conduct at debates and rallies are some of the benchmarks used in the US to gauge the popularity of all those seeking political office. President Barack Obama, through his grassroots mobilization of the people, some of whom were moved to exercise their franchise in the United States for the first time at different advanced ages, is known to have used Facebook excellently well to garner unprecedented political following. He currently has the highest number of political fans on Facebook with other world leaders following a long distance behind him as you will soon see in this paper. It is however, unfortunate that despite widespread reasoning and acceptance of democracy as the preferred alternative to military usurpation or despotic monarchy in Nigeria, the country’s brand of democracy is still an experiment that is tainted by character assassination, misuse of state might and power of incumbency, while public political debates on television are reduced to verbal attacks and sub-standard socio-economic commentary. In some cases, outdoor political rallies turn into fisticuffs and fatal violence. On Monday March 21, 2011 The Anambra State government banned political campaigns and rallies in the 42 markets and all motor parks in the state, following the violent clash of members of rival political parties in Awka and Onitsha. This was reported by Vanguard (online edition).

“This is coming on the heels of the clash between traders suspected to be members of APGA and ACN in Onitsha, where former governor and senatorial candidate of ACN for Anambra Central senatorial zone , Dr Chris


Ngige, who was billed to address the traders at the main market, Onitsha, was attacked. “Also at Eke Awka market in Awka, some traders, suspected to be card- carrying members of APGA, also clashed with Accord Party supporters who were there to campaign for their candidate, Senator Annie Okonkwo, and this led to the death of one person” Vanguard stated. 16

The Nigerian voter is patriotic, resilient and truly wants to cast his vote meaningfully in the April 2011 elections. He therefore braced himself against all odds to get registered and cleared by INEC to vote for candidates of his choice. He may see others ‘selling’ their votes to the highest bidder or even non-Nigerians ‘stealing’ and imposting as qualified voters, 17 18 yet he must have limits beyond which he would not risk his life. It is safe to assume that if he is not being paid to lay down his life as a trained secret service official or LTK (licensed to kill) political bodyguard or worse still, a shallow thinking rabble-rouser who feeds off poor handouts at political rallies, the average Nigerian voter would take every caution to protect his life and property rather than lose either in the name of civic activism or democratic awareness. However he still desires knowledge about the options he has between parties, manifestoes and candidates to vote for because the more of these he knows, the better he is informed to vote right. If he resents


Retrieved on March 25, 2011

17 Article:

Patriotism, ingenuity on display as Nigerian voters brace the odds – By Okungbowa AIWERIE, Kolade ADEYEMI, Tony AKOWE and Chris OJI 29/01/2011 02:40:00. Retrieved on March 25, 2011


with-possessing-nigerian-voters-cards. Article: ‘2 Togolese charged with possessing Nigerian voter’s cards’. Posted: Thursday, 10 March 2011 (00:00). Retrieved on March 25, 2011


the bandwagon, get-lost-in-the-mentality-of-the-crowd syndrome, then he would most probably seek the safest means of interacting with parties and candidates, devoid of any danger to his life and property. In this regard, traditional mass media vehicles by themselves may not provide the solution that would fulfil his quest for political interaction with candidates of his choice. While he may enjoy watching live presidential, governorship and senatorial debates on national television, as that affords him an opportunity to watch and listen to the candidates and their programmes, the only avenue open to him for immediate response, if he wanted to ask any candidate a question that would help him decide whether or not to vote for him is new media – sms (short message service) on Internet or mobile telephony service. Facebook also offers such immediacy in feedback.


Denis McQuail (2010) refers to new media as a disparate set of communication technologies that share novelty and are digitalized, and are widely available for personal use as communication devices. The professor emeritus finds it rather tricky to define new media but states, “we are particularly interested in those new media and applications that on various grounds enter the sphere of mass communication or directly or indirectly have consequences for the traditional mass media.” 19 McQuail groups most of the new media under the heading ‘Internet’. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve

19 Denis McQuail (2010). McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (6th ed.). SAGE. p. 136-159. ISBN



billions of users all over the world. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter- linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail. Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, and television are reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IPTV. Newspaper, book and other printed publications are adapting to web site technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet enabled or accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping has boomed both for major retail outlets and small artisans and traders. Business to business and money-related services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries. The origins of the Internet reach back to research of the 1960s, commissioned by the United States government in collaboration with private commercial interests to build robust, fault-tolerant and distributed computer networks. The funding of a new US backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. The commercialization of what was by the 1990s an international network resulted in its popularization and incorporation into virtually every aspect of


modern human life. As of 2009, an estimated quarter of Earth's population used the services of the Internet. 20 McQuail agrees that the Internet transgresses the limits of the print and broadcast models by enabling many-to-many conversations even as it incorporates radio, film and television elements all encoded binary style, and distributed across massive and diversified audiences using push technology. He identifies six main changes that new media has foisted on the mass communication process:

1. Digitalization and convergence of all aspects of media

2. Increased interactivity and network connectivity

3. Mobility and delocation of sending and receiving messages

4. Adaptation of publication and audience roles

5. Appearance of diverse new forms of media ‘gateway’

6. Fragmentation and blurring of the ‘media institution’

New media is a generic term for the many different forms of electronic communication that are made possible through the use of computer technology. The term is in relation to ‘old’ media forms, such as newspapers and magazines that are static representations of text and graphics. New media includes:

web sites

streaming audio and video

chat rooms


online communities

20 Retrieved on March 28, 2011


Web advertising

DVD and CD-ROM media

virtual reality environments

integration of digital data with the telephone; Internet telephony

digital cameras

mobile computing

Use of the term new media implies that data communication is happening between desktop and laptop computers and the media they take data from, such as compact discs and floppy disks, as well as devices such as PDAs (smartphones). 21


Appealing as the idea or perceived impact of new media on democracy and its development in Nigeria might be, this paper recognises the low literacy levels of adult Nigerians and the inadequacy of access to new media in comparison to Nigeria’s demographics. However, because it is obvious that unless Nigeria improves itself on both crucial accounts, socio-economic and political development will be gravely stalled. Hence the focus of this paper. More than 50% of Nigerians are said to live below the poverty line 22 while 70% of the country’s population live in rural areas 23 and 85 % of the 60 million adults in the country under the age of 35 can neither read nor write. 24

21 Retrieved on March 28, 2011

22 Nigeria 'needs poverty billions', BBC News, July 11 2007

23 Efem Nkanga, Gains of Competition in Telecoms Industry, All Africa, April 26 2007

24 John Onah, UNESCO laments level of illiteracy in Nigeria, Business Day Online, October 10 2007


Nigeria's policy of liberalization has attracted seven national long distance communication operators, 13 fixed wireless access network operators, eight interconnect- exchange operators, two Internet exchange

operators and 562 Internet service/solution providers. There are also 13 unified access network operators, and four 3G licenses were awarded in March


By 2010, Nigeria ought to have had about 40,000 GSM base stations and 10,000 CDMA base stations, up from approximately 10,000 GSM base stations and 2,000 CDMA stations previously. While Nigeria has about 71,000 Internet subscribers, it has 21.5 million mobile subscribers. Mobile telephony is therefore a much more pervasive tool in Nigerian life than the Internet. 25 However, many Nigerians now have Internet access on their mobile phones. Indeed it is the widespread use of mobile telephones in the country that has made online communities like Facebook more popular with Nigerians. Below is an overview of the progress of information communication technology in Nigeria from 1999 to 2010. In 1999, Nigeria had less than 700,000 telephone lines with just over 50% of them working. Private lines were allocated to the privileged few. Public telephone booths were nearly extinct. Mobile lines were limited to the very rich who could afford the bills. By the end of 2002, the number of telephone lines has increased to 2.296 million (702,000 fixed and 1.594 million mobile). The total number of deployed telephone lines grew to over 4 million lines (853,057 fixed and 3.149 million mobile) by December 2003. In 2007, telephone networks’ coverage of the country's major population centers is over 60%. Number of connected lines is about 38 millions, 97% of which are

25 Retrieved on March 28,



mobile lines, while the remaining 3 per cent are fixed lines. By 2010, it was projected that Nigeria would have at least 40,000 GSM base stations and 10,000 CDMA base stations, 40 cities would have broadband internet coverage, with 3.5million of wireline, 30,000 km of fibre optic cabling, 25,000 km of microwave and at least 10 major cities would have metro cable networks. 26


Facebook is an online community, a social network service and website ( launched in February 2004. It was founded by a Harvard college boy Mark Zuckerberg, his room mates and fellow computer science students. As of January 2011, Facebook had more than 600 million active users. You must be at least 13 years old to register on Facebook. A January 2009 study ranked Facebook as “the most used social network service by worldwide monthly active users.” Users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile, join common interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, some of which are maintained by organizations as a means of advertising and political campaigns. On October 24, 2007, Bill Gates’ Microsoft company announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc., an exchange for shares of privately held companies,

26 President Obasanjo’s stewardship 1999 - 2007: 8 Years in Office, Nigeria First: Official Website of the Office of Public Communications, March 19 2007 (en


Facebook's value was $41 billion (slightly surpassing eBay's) and it became the third-largest US web company after Google and Amazon. Most of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising and Microsoft is Facebook's exclusive partner for serving banner advertising. However, a smaller percentage of Facebook's users click on advertisements than many other large websites because Facebook users spend their time communicating with friends and therefore have their attention diverted away from advertisements. Spammers and other users however can manipulate these features by creating illegitimate events or posting fake birthdays to attract attention to their profile or cause. Facebook’s unlimited photos, videos, emails, chatting and blogging applications essentially make the site user-friendly for political campaigns. Its accessibility across the globe also makes it a useful platform to reach Nigerians at home and abroad (in the Diaspora) with campaign notes, photos, YouTube videos, etc. Many new smart phones offer access to the Facebook services either through their web-browsers or applications. Facebook application is available for the iPhone OS, the Android OS, and the WebOS. Nokia and Research In Motion both provide Facebook applications for their own mobile devices. More than 150 million active users access Facebook through mobile devices across 200 mobile operators in 60 countries. In December 2008, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory ruled that Facebook is a valid protocol to serve court notices to defendants. It is believed to be the world's first legal judgement that defines a summons posted on Facebook as legally binding. Employers (such as Virgin Atlantic Airways) have also used Facebook as a means to keep tabs on their


employees and have even been known to fire them over posts they have made.

By 2005, the use of Facebook had already become so ubiquitous that the generic verb ‘facebooking’ had come into use to describe the process of browsing others' profiles or updating one's own. In 2008, Collins English Dictionary declared ‘Facebook’ as their new Word of the Year. In December 2009, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared their word of the year to be the verb ‘unfriend’, defined as "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook. As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.” Facebook has been met with controversies. It has been blocked intermittently in several countries including the People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria and Bangladesh on different bases. For example, it was banned in many countries of the world on the basis of allowed content judged as anti-Islamic and containing religious discrimination. It has also been banned at many workplaces to prevent the wasting of employees’ time. The privacy of Facebook users has also been an issue, and the safety of user accounts has been compromised several times. Facebook once settled a lawsuit regarding claims over source code and intellectual property.


Facebook's role in the American political process was demonstrated in January 2008, shortly before the New Hampshire primary, when Facebook teamed up with ABC and Saint Anselm College to allow users to give live feedback about the "back to back" January 5 Republican and Democratic debates.


Over 1,000,000 people installed the Facebook application 'US politics' in order to take part, and the application measured users' responses to specific comments made by the debating candidates. Facebook is an extremely popular and powerful new way to interact and voice opinions. An article written by Michelle Sullivan of illustrates how the "Facebook effect" has affected youth voting rates, support by youth of political candidates, and general involvement by the youth population in the 2008 US election. In February 2008, a Facebook group called "One Million Voices Against FARC" organized an event that saw hundreds of thousands of Colombians march in protest against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as the FARC (from the group's Spanish name). In August 2010, one of North Korea's official government websites, Uriminzokkiri, joined Facebook. Today all major mass media across the globe (CNN, BBC, Aljazeera) are on Facebook. At age 102, Ivy Bean of Bradford, England joined Facebook in 2008, making her one of the oldest people ever on Facebook. An inspiration to other residents of the care home in which she lived, she quickly became more widely known and several fan pages were made in her honour. She visited Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, in Downing Street early in 2010. Some time after creating her Facebook page, Bean also joined Twitter, when she passed the maximum number of friends allowed by Facebook. She became the oldest person to ever use the Twitter website. At the time of her death in July 2010, she had 4,962 friends on Facebook and more than 56,000 followers on Twitter. On February 22, 2011, an Egyptian


baby was named "Facebook" to commemorate the vital role Facebook and other social media played in Egypt's revolution. 27


Facebook Founder/CEO, Zuckerberg once said, “Today, we reached another milestone: 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent - even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria” and in 2008 in an interview with Time magazine, he explained:

“I think there’s confusion around what the point of social networks is. A lot of different companies characterized as social networks have different goals — some serve the function of business networking, some are media portals. What we’re trying to do is just make it really efficient for people to communicate, get information and share information. We always try to emphasize the utility component. 28 This obviously implies the Uses and Gratifications media theory. In November 2007, it was believed that there were less than 40,000 Nigerians on Facebook, but by July 2008, 99,720 were recorded - a 46% increase, and in January 2009 it was 212,980. A web reporter had predicted about 600,000 active Nigerian users on Facebook by June 2009 and it is interesting to note that Facebook has since added Nigeria to its Social Ad utility platform since February 2008. 29

27 Retrieved March 29, 2011

28 Posted 9. January 2009, 12:09 in an article: How many Nigerians are on Facebook?. Retrieved March 29, 2011

29 Ibid. How many Nigerians are on Facebook?


The ‘Nigeria Page’ on Facebook currently has 148,472 user-fans, 30 while 33,945 appear on the ‘How Many Nigerians Are On Facebook? Join Let’s Find Out!’ page 31 and 4,986 on the ‘Nigerians Abroad’ page. 32 Latest updates show that the numbers keep rising by the day up to the millions.


Nigeria’s 14th President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, positioned himself and his 2011 presidential campaign as being very modern and ICT- relevant, by establishing several fans’ pages on Facebook. Like America’s President Barack Obama, Jonathan is a prolific user of modern communication technology (at least his campaign strategists are) and he has gained hundreds of thousands of fans and followers on Facebook. On 28 June 2010, Jonathan created a Facebook fans’ page as a way of socialising and sharing ideas with the people of Nigeria and Nigerians in the Diaspora. He currently has 518,686 33 fans on the social networking site. According to CNN, President Jonathan has more Facebook fans than the combined tally of British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Jacob Zuma. Moreover, fresh updates on his Facebook wall appear to be written by Jonathan himself, according to CNN. However, online news service Sahara Reporters suggest that this CNN claim remains only a mere appearance and may not be entirely true. “A very dependable source in the presidency confirms that Goodluck (Jonathan) does not even know how to sign on to his Facebook page not to mention managing

30 Retrieved on March 29, 2011

31 Retrieved on March 29, 2011

32 Retrieved on March 29, 2011

33 Retrieved on March 30, 2011.


a Facebook account. The source confirmed that a senior special adviser is now jokingly referred to as the “senior special manager on Facebook affairs.” The source credits the inconsistency in the messages on the President’s Facebook account and policy to the fact that the page is macro managed.” 34 Jonathan’s Facebook fans’ base number is second only to that of United States’ President Barack Obama among world presidents, which is about 18.5 million fans. President Nicholas Sarkozy of France comes in third with about 403,000 fans. With about 3 million home- based Nigerians on Facebook (according to official Facebook statistics), it is quite phenomenal that Jonathan has been able to attract a significant percentage of this following. 35


A noon search (on Wednesday, March 30, 2011) for ‘Goodluck Jonathan’ on Facebook threw up multiple results; some confusing, others confounding and this immediately unveils problems that are commonly associated with the Internet e.g. anonymity or facelessness, duplicity, identity fraud, imposture, etc.

The official ‘Goodluck Jonathan’ Facebook page which has 518,686 fans is hosted but apart from this, is another ‘Goodluck Jonathan’ page with 2,732 fans and this is hosted Then there is the ‘Volunteers for Goodluck Jonathan’ page with 34,108 fans, which is hosted

34 and-campaign-games. Posted: August 20, 2010 - 01:34


facebook/ Celebrating Progress (in) Africa website (Posted: MARCH 8, 2011 8:53pm)

26; and there is the quasi-impostor ‘Goodluck Folorunso (Goodluck Folorunso Ekundayo)’ page that is hosted, has just 676 friends, spots an official picture of President Goodluck Jonathan and has a profile that states, “has worked in Bayelsa State” – home state of Nigeria’s president. America’s President Barack Obama’s campaign organisation revolutionized electioneering around the world. Using his massive Facebook following of 18.5 million, Obama caused positive attitudinal change towards voters’ registration and actual voting. In Nigeria, even though the Facebook numbers are much smaller than Obama’s however, an electoral pattern may be emerging in the number of fans each of the major 2011 presidential candidates have amassed on their multiple Facebook platforms. Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has 168,946 36 fans on his official Facebook fans’ page plus just 458 fans on his ‘iSupport Nuhu Ribadu4President’ page plus 745 fans on his futuristic ‘Nuhu Ribadu & Babatunde Fashola 2015’ page. Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has 19,523 fans on his ‘Buhari Bakare 2011 Volunteers Group’ page plus 14,640 fans on his ‘Muhammadu Buhari’ page plus 11,249 fans on its ‘Buhari4Change’ page plus 1,252 fans on his ‘Buhari/Bakare for President’ page and 2,806 friends on the ‘General Muhammadu Buhari-rtd (Change 2011)’ page. His ‘Nigeria Youth for Buhari/Bakare Revolution’ has 323 fans. All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) flagbearer Ibrahim Shekarau polls the lowest number of fans on facebook with 1,405 on his ‘Mallam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau’ page; 856 fans on his ‘Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau’ page and just 505

36 Retrieved on March 30, 2011


fans on his ‘Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau for President 2011’ page. (All data were retrieved from these Facebook pages on March 30, 2011 and are therefore subject to substantial changes before and after the 2011 general elections). Three major observations here: Of the multiple Facebook pages that serve as campaign platforms for four of Nigeria’s leading 2011 presidential candidates listed above, their Facebook followers obviously show the highest user-activity rates on their official pages where political issues of interest are discussed than on the candidates’ personal profile pages. This is good for the growth of democracy in Nigeria. This might also be because the official campaign machinery of these candidates pay more attention to the better patronized platforms and users would naturally gravitate in the direction that guarantees a more useful and meaningful exchange of information. Secondly, Nigeria’s youthful Facebook users may dislike any idea of a ‘revolution’ and this might be the reason why of all six Facebook platforms listed for the Buhari presidential bid, ‘Nigeria Youth for Buhari/Bakare Revolution’ has the least number of users – 323. Thirdly – and this is a hypothesis that is worth measuring against the outcome of the 2011 elections – should the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan win the elections by a wide margin, just like his followship on Facebook by far beats the numbers his rivals have, the utility value of Facebook would be worth further investigation once INEC announces election results. Such an outcome in Nigeria would have far-reaching implications. It might mean that no longer can politicians win elections meaningfully without winning to some extent, a large number of followers on Facebook. This is not to imply in any way that Nigerian subscribers or users constitute a microcosm of the Nigerian electorate because they do not. But Facebook would have


proven indispensable as a political campaign vehicle and platform for boosting democratic growth. Indeed Facebook is not some plaything as some might choose to believe, but a massive news organization, society influencer and interaction bandwagon on a scale still hugely downplayed by addicts and apologists of ‘old’ media (Joshua Gans, 2011). A Professor of Economics at the Melbourne Business School and visiting researcher to Microsoft Research USA, Gans in a Harvard business review blog article averred that Facebook is the world’s largest news organisation today. He wrote: “News organizations do two major things, commercially speaking:

They use news to grab attention and then sell that attention to advertisers. In the old chain of news production, a piece of timely information was researched by journalists, sifted through by publishers, and disseminated. “It was a reporting of the facts rather than an expression of opinion. It just turned out that Facebook isn't a geographic neighbourhood but a socially connected one. It provides a platform whereby individuals become reporters, editors and publishers.” 37


Most of the politicking on President Goodluck Jonathan’s official Facebook page is done by an application called ‘wallposting’ – a bulletin type of news release, which is done through Facebook status updates. The speed and volume of fans’ responses help the page managers determine the fluctuations in the rate at which they attract and sustain fan-appeal plus feedback.

37 Facebook Is the Largest News Organization Ever; Posted 8:27 AM Friday March 11, 2011



Goodluck Jonathan (June 28, 2010) Jonathan’s first status post was – Today, in fulfillment of the promise I made at the 26th convocation of the University of Port Harcourt on Saturday, 15 May 2010, I have created a Facebook fan page to interact with Nigerians. As I said on that day, there is an unchallengeable power of good in the Nigerian nation and her youth and through this medium I want Nigerians to give me the privilege of relating with them without the trappings of office. GEJ 38 Facebook wallposts or status updates on political platforms such as Jonathan’s help break news down to easily digestible bits. Brevity and the use of the active tense are the hallmarks of easy-to-remember campaign wall posts.


Goodluck Jonathan (March 30, 2011) As we approach the April's elections, I want Nigerians to know that these

elections are not a do or die affair to me which is why I have vowed to crack

down on riggers even if they attempt

respecter of persons. He made us all and so He loves us all. Therefore vote as

your conscience directs not on the basis of ethnicity. Nigeria is one nation

to rig for me. Almighty God is no

under God. GEJ


ANALYSIS: Jonathan drums up voters’ confidence in the credibility of the forthcoming elections as well as appeal to their religious sentiments to eschew

38 Source:


violence and electoral fraud. By signing each post with his acronym GEJ he personalises the message thus giving it advertorial appeal rather than a straight, impersonal news feel. He cleverly dissociates himself from his political godfather Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s reckless statement of the 2011 presidency being a ‘do or die affair’ for Jonathan’s party, PDP.


Goodluck Jonathan (April 11, 2011) When I took office I promised to focus on three areas (A) Electoral Reform (B) Energy Security (C) Electricity Generation. In the Niger Delta we now have peace leading to a 20% increase in oil production. We now generate power at our highest level in 10 years. Yesterday saw the start of a free and credible electoral process. I've kept faith with you and now I ask that you keep faith

with one Nigeria. GEJ


ANALYSIS: Jonathan keeps in focus a digestible three-point agenda and asserts that he has achieved substantial improvement in all three areas of focus. His punchline however is the ‘credibility’ of the 2011 general election, which he gives a pass mark, but which traditional media all around the world have reported is fraught with anomalies. Again, Facebook as a platform makes it easy for a politician to ‘politick’ in ways that favour his campaign without external vetting.

GOODLUCK JONATHAN LIST OF PAGES ON FACEBOOK Volunteers for Goodluck Jonathan 34,130 people like this. Pray for President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan


15,477 people like this. Goodluck Jonathan 34 mutual friends Goodluck-Sambo Publicity Forum 66 people like this. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan 5,768 people like this. Goodluck Support Group

501 people like this.

Goodluck Grassroot Movement

224 people like this.

GOODLUCK JONATHAN YOUTH VANGUARD 3,068 people like this. Jonathan Goodluck for President 1,324 people like this. Students for Goodluck Jonathan

604 people like this.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for 2011

339 people like this.


234 people like this.



LETS SUPPORT GOODLUCK JOHNATHAN'S PRESIDENCY 2,983 people like this. OBASANJO, ALLOW GOODLUCK TO LEAD. ENJOY YOUR RETIREMENT 193 people like this. Goodluck Nigeria Organization 140 people like this. Goodluck Nigeria Youth Alliance 84 people like this. 39


Three theories provide the framework for this research effort; Technological or Media Determinism Theory, Theory of the Public Sphere and the Uses and Gratifications Theory. The basic belief in the Public Sphere theory is that political action is steered by the public sphere, and that the only legitimate governments are those that listen to the public sphere. “Democratic governance rests on the capacity of, and opportunity for citizens to engage in enlightened debate.” Much of the debate over the public sphere involves what is the basic theoretical structure of the public sphere, how information is deliberated in the public sphere, and what influence the public sphere has over society. Most contemporary conceptualizations of the Public Sphere are based on the ideas expressed in Jurgen Habermas’ exposition on the bourgeois public sphere in his book, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere – An

39 Retrieved all results on March 31, 2011


Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. 40 The work is still considered the foundation of contemporary Public Sphere theories, and most theorists cite it when discussing their own theories. Habermas (1989: xi) said: "In its clash with the arcane and bureaucratic practices of the absolutist state, the emergent bourgeoisie gradually replaced a public sphere in which the ruler’s power was merely represented before the people with a sphere in which state authority was publicly monitored through informed and critical discourse by the people". Theory of the Public Sphere is now used as the theoretical framework for this critical analysis on the promotion of democracy via new media. However, we must also ask if the Internet can be regarded as a public sphere? Dahlberg (2001) 41 believes that it probably can, as “a cursory examination of the thousands of diverse conversations taking place everyday online and open to anyone with Internet access seems to indicate the expansion on a global scale of the loose webs of rational-critical discourse that constitute what is known as the public sphere.” Craig C. (2002) 42 indicates that the modern public sphere has two related meanings: it refers both to the open discussion among members of a collectivity (community) about their common concerns and to the activities of the state that are central to defining that community. Habermas’ theory of the public sphere would be relevant and apply to the Internet if the Internet is a many-to-many medium which is accessible to all

40 Habermas, Jürgen (German(1962)English Translation 1989), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Thomas Burger, Cambridge Massachusetts: The MIT Press, pp. 305, ISBN 0-262-58108-6

41 Dahlberg Lincoln (2001): “Extending the Public Sphere through cyberspace: The case of Minnesota E-democracy.” Available at

42 Craig Calhoun (2002): “Dictionary definition: public sphere” in Dictionary of the Social Sciences. Oxford University Press.


'normal' people so that they can discuss matters of public concern in an ‘unrestricted fashion’ with the “guarantee of freedom of assembly and association and the freedom to express and publish their opinions” (Habermas, 1964) quoted in Pusey (1987: 89). 43 This exactly is what Facebook offers; a many-to-many medium that guarantees freedom of assembly and the publishing of opinions, perhaps even more so than most traditional mass media offer. Jake Gordon (2004) asserts that the technology powering the Internet enables it to be fairly decentralised and open; free from censorship and with the ability of anonymity. However, this issue of anonymity raised a problem about how much the Internet can be regarded as public sphere. 44 According to Mark Poster (1994), a person's identity which is rooted in the physical body is defined by contact and this forces individuals to be accountable for their positions allowing trust to be built up between people. But on the Internet, individuals define their own identities and change them at will. This kind of protean identity is not consonant with forming a stable political community as we have known it. On the Internet, identities are mobile, dissent is encouraged, and ‘normal’ status markers are absent, it is a very different social space from that of the public sphere. “The conditions that encourage compromise, the hallmark of the democratic political process, are lacking online. We must remember that the Net is something entirely new, and its effects on democratic politics can't be predicted using historical precedent. The technology of the Internet shouldn't

43 Pusey Michael (1987): “Jürgen Habermas: key sociologists.” London: Routledge 44 Jake Gordon (2004): “Does the Internet provide the basis for a public sphere that approximates to Habermas' vision?” Avaliable at


be viewed as a new form of public sphere.” 45 Interestingly, users treat social media as veritable public sphere. Taking into consideration all these views, this research work has correctly applied the Theory of the Public Sphere in developing understanding to the relationship between new media and democracy. Also encouraging this position are the views of Puopolo (2001) 46 , Gimmler (2001) 47 and Browning (2002) 48 who see the Internet as the booster of the public sphere and deliberative democracy, and concluded that the Internet can actually strengthen deliberative democracy because the Internet supports an equal and unrestricted means of access to information which is fundamental to the practice of discourse in the deliberative democratic process.


Uses and Gratifications Theory is a popular approach to understanding mass communication. The theory places more focus on the consumer or audience, instead of the actual message itself by asking “what people do with media” rather than “what media does to people” (Katz, 1959). It assumes that members of the audience are not passive but take an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives.

The theory also holds that audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their needs. The approach suggests that people use the media to fulfill

45 Mark Poster (1994): “The Net as a Public Sphere?” WIRED Magazine. Available at (accessed April 1, 2011)

46 Puopolo, S. (2001): “The web and US Senatorial campaigns 2000”. American Behavioral Scientist, 44, 2030-2047.

47 Gimmler, A. (2001): “Deliberative democracy, the public sphere and the Internet.” Philosophy & Social Criticism, 27, 21-39

48 Browning, G. (2002): “Electronic democracy”. Melford: CyberAge Books Cook, William A. (1994), "Is It Interactive Media, or Hyperactive Media?" Journal of Advertising Research, 34 (1), 7-9.


specific gratifications. This theory would then imply that the media compete against other information sources for viewers' gratification. (Katz, E., Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. 1974). There are three main paradigms in media effects:

hypodermic needle (i.e. direct or strong effects), limited effects, and the powerful-to-limited-effects. ‘Uses and Gratifications’ falls under the second paradigm which reached its apex around 1940-1960. 49

Thus the Internet in general and Facebook in particular as interactive media most probably have an unconscious influence over users’ lives and how they participate in a democratic system. Hoffman, Novak (1996: 50-68) say the Internet is made of communities of people who use and build up networks swapping e-mails which have made the Internet an integral part of their daily life. 50

Berthon, Pitt, and Watson (1996) claim that among many important features provided by the Internet, such as interactivity, shrinking of distance and time, the current rates of growth, could project that people from all demographic and socio-economic backgrounds would be Internet users, and “on-line households would be similar to general households.” 51 The number of Nigerians who use the Internet continues to rise from 0.1% in 2000 of the entire population to 16.1% in December 2009, that is 23,982,200 Internet users according to Internet World Statistics. 52

49 Katz, Elihu, Jay G. Blumler, and Michael Gurevitch (1974): "Utilization of Mass Communication by the Individual," in The Uses of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research, Jay G. Blumler and Elihu Katz, eds., Beverly Hills: Sage, 19-32.

50 Hoffman, Donna L., and Thomas P. Novak (1996), "Marketing in Hypermedia Computer-Mediated Environments: Conceptual Foundations," Journal of Marketing, 60 (July), 50-68

51 Berthon, Pierre, Leyland F. Pitt, and Richard T. Watson (1996): "The World Wide Web as an Advertising Medium: Toward an Understanding of Conversion Efficiency." Journal of Advertising Research, 36 (1), 43-54.

52 Retrieved on April 7, 2011


The Uses and Gratifications theory has effectively provided one of the most relevant perspectives to explain psychological and behavioural dimensions involving mediated communication (Lin 1996; Ruggiero 2000). It explains the psychological needs that shape media use and what motivates them to engage in certain media-use behaviours for gratification that fulfils those intrinsic needs (Lin 1999a; Rubin 1994).

According to Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) this theory assumed that media users are goal-directed in their behaviour, and are active media users. They are aware of their needs and select the appropriate media to gratify their needs. In the case of this study, Nigerians, especially those in the Diaspora, have found some sort of gratification from using the Internet to be able to connect back home, to be able to engage in political discourse with similar minds and countrymen all over the world and Nigerians at home have also found gratification expressing their freedom of speech without regulation or censorship from the ruling party.

Elliott and Rosenberg (1987) hold that audiences' motivations and decisions to use a certain type of mediated communication tool have been investigated through this theory whenever a new technology enters the stage of mass communication. Uses and gratifications theory has been considered an axiomatic theory in that its principles are generally accepted and applicable to various situations involving mediated communications (Lin 1999a).

The rapid growth of the Internet has strengthened the potency of uses and gratification theory because this medium requires a higher level of


interactivity from its users in comparison with other traditional media like radio, television, newspaper or magazines. 53

Computer-mediated communication, through the Internet, has created fresh levels of interactivity beyond what traditional mass communication has offered over the years (Morris and Ogan 1996; Pavlik 1996; Rafaeli and Sudweeks 1997). 54 For example, interactivity on the Internet allows consumers to actively participate in the discussion, debate and deliberation process. In traditional media, users have very limited control over the messages and there is usually only one-way message flow from senders to receivers.

This has been a challenge to the democratic process in Nigeria as it made many citizens passive and alienated them from nation building. On Facebook, online activists regularly deliver information to millions of individual users who in turn provide feedback to these messages and other users, which may go a long way in influencing public opinion and government policies down the line. Facebook interactivity thus provides comments, feedback, and personal information from receivers back to senders, thus creating an online ‘public sphere’ of engaging discussions.

Facebook users make choices and have control over messages. They can select, search, edit, and modify the form and content of mediated messages by interacting with the messages. Sally J. McMillan (2000) proposes that Internet

53 Lin, Carolyn A. (1996), "Looking Back: The Contribution of Blumler and Katz's Uses of Mass Communication to Communication Research," Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 40 (4),


-- (1999a), "Uses and Gratifications," in Clarifying Communication Theories: A Hands-On Approach -- (1999a), "Uses and Gratifications," in Clarifying Communication Theories: A Hands-On Approach, Gerald Stone, Michael Singletary, and Virginia P. Richmond, eds., Ames: Iowa State University Press,


-- (1999b), "Online-Service Adoption Likelihood," Journal of Advertising Research, 39 (2), 79-89. 54 Morris, Merrill, and Christine Ogan (1996): "The Internet as Mass Medium," Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 1 (4). Available at v011/issue4/v011n04.html (accessed April 2010).


users go to informative websites more recurrently when they too possess an elevated enthusiasm for information thus interactivity on such sites would significantly affect user attitude. Users could feel they are becoming active citizens through online civic participation; and there is a strong positive correlation between involvement and interactivity. 55


As discovered and retrieved from the Internet on 08 April 2011, there are 653,000 56 Google search results on the Technological/Media Determinism Theory that came up in just 0.07 seconds. Before the advent of the Internet (which was predicted by Canadian linguist and philosopher, Marshall McLuhan) such research speed and sheer volume of research materials all in one place and at the same time, was unimaginable. Such is the power of the Internet as a plethora of mass media. Although McLuhan is not the earliest proponent of the theory, he became its most popular icon and Google search on him the same day produced 1,020,000 results. 57 McLuhan is known for coining the expressions “the medium is the message” and “the global village” and he is said to have predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen (1857-

55 McMillan, Sally J. (2000): "Interactivity Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Function, Perception, Involvement, and Attitude Toward the Web Site," in Proceedings of the American Academy of Advertising, Mary A. Shaver, ed., East Lansing: Michigan State University, 71-78.






1929), an American sociologist. Most interpretations of Technological Determinism share two general ideas: (A) That the development of technology itself follows a predictable, traceable path largely beyond cultural or political influence, and (B) That technology in turn has ‘effects’ on societies that are inherent, rather than socially conditioned or produced because society organizes itself to support and further develop a technology once it has been introduced. Technological determinists believe “You can't stop progress, implying that we are unable to control technology” (Lelia Green) 58 . This suggests that we are somewhat powerless and society allows technology to drive social changes because, “societies fail to be aware of the alternatives to the values embedded in technology” (Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx). 59 Media determinism, a subset of technological determinism, is a philosophical and sociological position which posits the power of the media to impact society. As a theory of change, it is seen as a cause and effect relationship. New media technologies bring about change in society. Much like the ‘magic bullet’ theories of mass communication, media determinism provides a somewhat simplistic explanation for very complicated scenarios. Cause and effect relationships are reduced to their most basic premise, and explained as such. Techno-centrist theories make everything explainable in light of the media's relation to technological developments. Two leading media determinists are the Canadian scholars Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan.

58 Green, Lelia. Technoculture. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin. pp. 1–20. 59 Smith, Merritt Roe; and Leo Marx, eds. (1994). Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge: MIT Press.


McLuhan divided human history into four periods - a tribal age, a literate age, a print age and an electronic age. He states that the progression from one age to another was neither gradual nor evolutionary. Rather, each age was brought on by a technological advancement. He states, “The crucial inventions that changed life on this planet were the phonetic alphabet, the printing press, and the telegraph. Family life, the workplace, schools, health care, friendship, religious worship, recreation, politics - nothing remains untouched by communication technology” (Griffin p. 343). He further states that every new form of media is an extension of the human body; the book is an extension of the eye, the wheel an extension of the foot, and clothing an extension of the skin. 60 McLuhan’s brand of technological determinism tends towards the ‘hard determinism’ variant. Hard determinists view technology as developing independent from social concerns. They say that technology creates a set of powerful forces acting to regulate social activities and their meaning – that humans organise themselves to meet the needs of technology and the outcome of this organisation is beyond our control or we do not have the freedom to make a choice regarding the outcome. Soft Determinism is a more passive view of the way technology interacts with socio-political situations. Soft determinists say that although technology is the guiding force in our evolution, we still have a ‘chance’ to make decisions regarding the outcomes of a situation. This is not to say that soft determinists acknowledge ‘free will’ as an existing factor, but they subscribe to the possibility for us to ‘roll the dice’ and see what the outcome is.

60 Griffin, E. (1997). A First Look at Communication Theory. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Posted on: Retrieved on March 24, 2011


We must note here that whereas technological advancement is the wheel that rolled in the Internet and by extension Facebook, subscribers to the latter exercise a great deal of free will in the choices they make on Facebook viz: whilst different friends, fan pages and political groups may send invitations for others to join them or join issues with them, people can and do decline many an invitation. However, since the advent of Facebook, many aspects of socio-political behaviour have been modified or sometimes changed altogether. For instance, most Facebook users prefer to send e-Greeting Cards for Christmas, and birthdays than buy printed cards. Creating events on Facebook and sending event-profiles to friends’ Facebook addresses (accounts) is gradually changing the way people plan their social, corporate and even religious events. Modern theorists of technology and society no longer consider technological determinism to be a very accurate view of the way in which we interact with technology, even though determinist assumptions and language fairly saturate the writings of many boosters of technology, the business pages of many popular magazines, and much reporting on technology. Instead, research in science and technology studies, social construction of technology and related fields have emphasised more nuanced views that resist easy causal formulations. They emphasise that “The relationship between technology and society cannot be reduced to a simplistic cause-and- effect formula. It is, rather, an intertwining, whereby technology does not determine but operates and is operated upon in a complex social field” (Murphie and Potts). 61

61 Murphie, Andrew; and Potts, John (2003). "1". Culture and Technology. London: Palgrave. p. 21.


Again, there are social determinists (not hard, not soft) who believe that social circumstances alone select which technologies are adopted, with the result that no technology can be considered ‘inevitable’ solely on its own merits. Technology and culture are not neutral and when knowledge comes into the equation, technology becomes implicated in social processes. The knowledge of how to create and enhance technology, and of how to use technology is socially bound knowledge. Postmodernists take another view, suggesting that what is right or wrong is dependent on circumstance. They believe technological change can have implications on the past, present and future. While they believe technological change is influenced by changes in government policy, society and culture, they consider the notion of change to be a paradox, since change is constant. Media and cultural studies theorist Brian Winston, in response to technological determinism, developed a model for the emergence of new technologies which is centered on the Law of the Suppression of Radical Potential. In two of his books - Technologies of Seeing: Photography, Cinematography and Television (1997) and Media Technology and Society (1998) - Winston applied this model to show how technologies evolve over time, and how their 'invention' is mediated and controlled by society and societal factors which suppress the radical potential of a given technology.


This study utilizes both qualitative and quantitative techniques, specifically one-on-one Facebook chats with some of the 100 Nigerian respondents (home and abroad) who were randomly selected across different age groupings, different occupations and different locations. In addition, an e-Questionnaire


was distributed to diversified mailing lists on the social networking site, Facebook. To ensure that the optimal number of 100 respondents took the survey, over 200 e-Questionnaires were mailed out on Facebook. Within 7 days, all the needed 100 responses were filled and returned by auto-mail. Fisher, Margolis and Resnick (1996:11-29) assert that: “the Internet provides a virtual frontier to expand our access to information and to increase our knowledge and understanding of public opinion, political behaviour, social trends and lifestyles through survey research. Comparable to other technological advancements such as the telephone, the Internet presents opportunities that will impact significantly on the process and quality of survey research now and in the twenty-first century. Cyberspace has made it feasible for researchers to work beyond traditional face-to-face, posted mail and telephone surveys.” 62 The 63 e-Questionnaire software used in this study is error-free, tamper-proof and designed to prevent double or repeated survey entries from the same respondent. This has ensured that all collected and analysed responses were from separate targeted respondents.


Eight out of every ten respondents of the 100 collated results (attached as appendix) agreed that with over 600 million people on Facebook and possibly too, several millions of Nigerians on this social network, every major politician seeking national or federal office should solicit support on this platform as well as interact with potential Nigerian voters. This confirms that a cross section of

62 Bonnie Fisher, Michael Margolis and David Resnick (1996). "Surveying the Internet: Democratic

Theory & Civic Life in Cyberspace;




Nigerian users of the Internet and Facebook have found new media quite expressive and useful for political discourse, and by extension, democratic consciousness and growth. Of this number, about 76% or seven out of every ten respondents either agree or strongly agree that what people write or say on Facebook affects how they see democracy in Nigeria, while 82% or eight out of every ten admit that participating in politics on Facebook helps develop their democratic awareness. All the respondents are Nigerians; 66 male, 34 female. Whereas the dynamics of the Internet and especially what is achievable on Facebook have shaped society in ways that make the technology-compliant voter (or potential voter) more interested in political discourse, Facebook use allows a lot of latitude for users’ free will. Some of the respondents who could have remained faceless/anonymous (because the e-Questionnaire did not require any such personal details) chose to send a follow up wall post to identify themselves. Results showed that respondents included Nigerians in Europe and America, although eight out of every ten respondents (82%) currently live in Nigeria. Only 2% of the respondents live in other parts of the world. This underscores the relevance of Facebook as a global social media platform that networks both senders and receivers of messages with an instant/immediate feedback mechanism, regardless of their location within or outside Nigeria. Some respondents stated in their chat-lines (Facebook dialogues, conversations or interviews) that they find Facebook particularly high in its membership growth appeal. They ascribe this to the usage convenience and simplicity of its utilities e.g. pictures, videos and messaging applications plus the latest email feature that was added to Facebook mid-March 2011.


This was confirmed by how the official Facebook site of Goodluck Jonathan increased its fan-base in 12 days, from 518,686 on March 30, 2011 to 525,224 64 on April 11, 2011 even as his feedback-comments on his wall keep increasing by the minute. All but one – that is 99 – of the respondents were aged between 18-59 years. They are therefore regarded as Nigerians who are all potential voters and who are or can still be actively productive to political and intellectual discourse, democratic and economic development as well as remain computer and Internet compliant for a long time.


Politicking or political campaigns, business and marketing intelligence, advertising and publicity, as well as online journalism are notable activities that have soared high in relevance and impact upon society in ways that make information exchanges and transactions easily tracked and quantifiable. On a daily basis, Facebook uses or exchanges (otherwise called ‘account hits’) are measured in ways that track advertising revenue for its owners. This highlights a high utility value that social media like Facebook possess, which the Nigerian electorate, civic activists, politicians, political parties and government can exploit to greatly improve mass communication processes – that is, the useful cross-flow of messages between government and corporates (senders) and the governed or markets (receivers) that can bring about quicker national consciousness and development. To make this happen, at least on Facebook, all stakeholders need to take deliberate steps to increase the number of Nigerians that would sign up on



Facebook and other social media through sign up promotions, etc. This should widen the ‘public sphere’ for socio-political discourse as well as deepen the communication process, with political campaigns being just a fraction of that process. Also there is a need to make more Facebook users interested in joining issues on identified political platforms. There is still a huge gap between how political campaigns are run on Facebook and what really interests the majority of Facebook users. For example the e-Questionnaire results show that the top-rated activities and interests of the majority of Nigerian Facebook users are:

‘Messaging and Chatting with Friends’ (64%) as well as ‘Checking Out News

Feed and Profiles’ (62%). On the other hand, ‘Posting Views on Political Issues of Interest’ (33%) and ‘Joining Favourite Political Platforms’ (15%) place third and sixth in the Facebook priorities of most Nigerian users. It makes sense therefore that initiators of political campaigns on Facebook need to do the following:

(A) Stream campaign news into the Facebook news feed constantly, in

addition to wall-posting it on their official Facebook pages.

(B) Political campaigners need to spend time on Facebook to chat with

fans and other Facebook users. Imagine how much more popular President Goodluck Jonathan could have become if he had set up well advertised Facebook CHAT SESSIONS with the Nigerian electorate as compensation for his

inability to show up at many of the presidential debates on television, which he was invited to prior to the 2011 general elections.

(C) Political campaigns on Facebook would become even more engaging

and productive if instead of having one official site, several others are created and targeted at different but relevant groups and communities. In addition to


this, each campaign account or page on Facebook should have constantly changing profile pictures – from normal to caricature to the melodramatic. Each profile change automatically streams into the Facebook news feed and that would keep drawing attention to the different political campaign sites on Facebook. So far four of the research questions this paper started with have been answered in the course of this study, but the last one is broken in two and surmised below:

Is institutional control and monitoring of Facebook done?

Unfortunately not; the National Communications Commission, NCC, has no published data on the influence or impact of global social media on the society and political action or inaction of Nigerians. Whereas different governments have found reasons to block Facebook access and use intermittently in China, Vietnam, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria and Bangladesh on different occasions (See ‘The Facebook Story’ on page 19).

“Such omission by the relevant authorities in Nigeria is mindless and irresponsible. These days, everything has got to be tracked and monitored. Even now, Facebook Incorporated is about to set up an office in Nigeria and is already shopping for a Nigerian-American with relevant experience to come back to Nigeria to manage its Nigerian end of business” said Mr. Steve Balogun, a Nigerian-International and IT expert – one of the respondents who took the survey for this study. 65 Why?

65 STEVE BALOGUN, Nigerian International and IT specialist marketer living in London but working for an American company TechTracker. Interview date: Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Southeast London (UK)


It is obvious that Nigerian Facebook users are growing by the day. Zuckerberg and his team have sensed that there is big advertising revenue to be made in this growing Nigerian Facebook community and with that comes increasing Facebook influence on the Nigerian society. The Nigerian government may not exert any harsh control yet, but it ought to monitor all Facebook in-roads into the lifestyle of its Nigerian subscribers in order to exploit it for improved government-to-citizens communication and the development of democracy.

Can Facebook be used to insist on good governance in Nigeria?

“Of course not; rather, Facebook as well as other social media on the Internet can be used to influence better democratic awareness” said Balogun. He added, “However, I must say here that if the Nigerian government will not use new media to positively engage its citizens, new media will remain open as the citizens’ mass platform to foster civic unrest as it has been reported especially in the ongoing protests that have spread across the Arab world, in which Twitter has been fingered as the main network that is shaping protests and mutinies even in countries where telecommunication structures are either backward or extremely limited.”



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