Interrogating Social Negotiations Within Online Discussion Platforms in Nigeria

Interrogating Social Negotiations Within Online Discussion Platforms in Nigeria

Babatunde Joshua Omotosho (Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2020010103

Abstract

One of the dividends of internet revolution in Africa relates to the privilege it accords all and sundry to access news online and share their views with the online community through online discussion platforms. However, the kind of heated discussions emanating from these platforms recently is becoming an issue of concern. Abusive language and arguments revolving around religion, politics, and ethnical sentiments appear to pervade most online commentaries. This article assesses online discussion platforms in Nigeria, its contributions to the society and its setbacks; further, it critically explores the connection between discussion platforms and violence. The article concludes with some recommendations on how Nigeria can further use the platforms for its benefit.
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Introduction

The main thrust of this article is to examine the social dynamics of online discussion vituperations among the users of online newspaper comment boards. A discussion around this phenomenon becomes important considering the outbursts in the use of social media within the country and elsewhere; as at 2013, studies pointed out that internet users in Nigeria increased to about 50 million users out of which 75 percent were social media users, and as at 2018, it has increased rapidly such that the country is ranked second after South Africa in terms of internet penetration (Internet World Stats, 2012; The Vanguard, 2018). One of the benefits internet connectivity has brought to mass media is that it affords the readers the opportunity to provide feedback on issues of interest irrespective of space and race. National dailies in Nigeria have keyed into this innovation as they have the online news version. The depth of discussions and information flowing from this news thread have equally become a useful tool for journalists in enriching their story lines or publishing new stories (Gunn and McDonald, 2011). For the readers, the comment threads are assets; it affords community of readers with same or dissenting views to express themselves freely on issues of interest. Consequently, one of means through which news readers express their opinions regarding ongoing debates or headlines in the national or local dailies in recent times is through the online discussion platforms. Within these platforms, interesting issues and debates around news captions are discussed while other topical issues within the country and elsewhere are equally discussed. These platforms unlike the traditional face to face interaction provide the commentators an opportunity to hide their identities (if they so wish) and expressly share their views with the online community. This development has strengthened news production and consumption; equally, it has further entrenched freedom of speech and opinions as engrained in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.

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