Portland Communication did a report about How Africa Tweets and it has some interesting insights on the behaviour of Twitter users in Africa. They seeked to understand who were shaping the African Twitter conversations during the elections in the past year. They found that:
- 53% of the leading voices came from outside the country, which is very very interesting.
- Politicians had a limited role in driving conversations in their countries. For example in Senegal, no politicians were identified among influential handles, but in Kenya, the number of politicians doubled between the election years but it was still less than 10%.
- Bots were active in every election and were used to agitate, push negative narratives about major issues, candidates and perceived electoral abnormalities.
Obviously, I was curious to check what they found out for Kenya specifically and it has some not-so-surprising results. Portland extracted data for the election in Kenya between 8th June and 22nd August of 2017.
In Kenya, 71.3% of the share of influencers during the elections were from the country and Uganda, South Africa US and Tanzania followed suit. However, when it came to the type of influencer that drove the conversation on Twitter, nearly 25% were marked as potential bots. News and Media organizations were second with 17.1% of the share and journalists & media professionals had a 16.7% share.
They even tallied the top influencers during the election in Kenya and surprise Alykhansatchu, a banker was found to be the top influencer. Out of the 8 top influencers revealed in the report, 3 were categorized as ‘potential bots’.
Kenya was singled out specifically in the report for having a high percentage of influential voices being potential bots. Rwanda was the complete opposite where they only accounted for just 4% of the total. In the August election, 25% of the influencers were bots and it rose to 28% in the October election. Also interesting enough, influential political accounts doubled from 3% to 7% between the two elections
This report comes at a time when we saw Twitter do a purge recently where they seeked to remove accounts that were locked due to suspicious activity. This led to some accounts experiencing a large drop in follower count, as much as 50% in some accounts.