Social media tends to be used by the youth more than the older generation and they use these platforms to share content or to post opinions about world trends and the likes.
According to Internet World Stats, we have around 345 million Internet users in Africa, which is only 28% of the total population. 35% of Africa’s population are between the ages of 15 and 35 and they are in an age where social media use is the norm rather than the exception.
GeoPoll was interested in finding out the perception of African youth towards social media, Internet regulation and free speech. They polled 4,213 youth from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa using the GeoPoll app and this is what they found out.
Regulating Social Media
Geopoll asked the respondents about their perception towards governments regulating social media. The results were kind of surprising.
First, when they were asked why they would support a government regulating social media, 24% felt like it would be effective in preventing hate speech. Kenyans in this case scored the highest with 36%, where they felt hate speech should be a reason for regulation.
Surprisingly, a majority of African youth don’t mind the government regulating the Internet. 54% believed the government should regulate social media. Ghana scored highest in this case (61%) followed by Kenya (58%), Nigeria (54%), South Africa (52%) and only 46% of Ugandans supporting the cause.
In Kenya’s case, the last GeoPoll report revealed that Kenyan millennial prefer social media for news and this new statistic reveals that they prefer the government regulate it so as to prevent hate speech.
Free speech as a human right
85% of the respondents stated that they consider online free speech as a human right. Geopoll also asked the respondents to rate the level of free speech in their country either as very free, somewhat free, neutral, less free and not free.
63% of respondents said that the level of free speech in their country is free (38% very free and 25% somewhat free) and only 14% said that the level is either less or not free. Ghanaians reported the highest level among all countries (64%) while Nigerians and Ugandans made up of two thirds of the respondents who indicated less free or not free.
When free speech becomes hate speech
GeoPoll asked the respondents whether “Social Media makes it easier to post and see hate speech” from a scale from I strongly agree to I strongly disagree.
89% of the respondents agreed that it is easier to post and see hate speech on social media. Specifically when it comes to South Africans, 55% of the respondents indicated that they strongly agreed to the statement.
How frequently they share on social media
Among the 4,213 respondents, 17% indicated that they post more than 20 times a week on social media. 10% posted between 11 and 20 times, 28% between 6-10 times per day and 45% posted less than 5 times a day.
Ghana (20%), South Africa (19%), and Uganda (19%) had a larger share of respondents who post on social media more than 20 times per week when compared to Nigeria (16%) and Kenya (14%).
Sharing political views on social media
GeoPoll found that 44% of respondents said they had not/did not share their political views on social media and 46% said they had or did.
From the survey, they found out that Nigerians are more likely to share their political views (51%) compared to Ghanaians (31%).