The role of twitter as a tool for political education a study of the Endsars protest

(#ENDSARS) Role of twitter as a tool for political education a study of the endSars protest



The microblogging site Twitter lets people post quick 140-character updates, or ‘tweets’, to a network of followers. Twitter asks participants ‘What’s happening?’ resulting in a constantly-updated stream of short messages ranging from the mundane to breaking news, shared links, and thoughts on life. In Twitter’s directed model of friendship, users choose others to ‘follow’ in their stream, and each user has his or her own group of ‘followers’. There is neither a technical requirement nor social expectation of reciprocity (particularly with famous people, although this differs by user group). Tweets can be posted and read from the web, SMS, or third-party clients for desktop computers, smartphones, and other devices. This integration allows for instant postings of photos, on-the-ground reports, and quick replies to other users. The site launched in 2006 and broke into the mainstream in 2008–2009, when user accounts and media attention exponentially increased. Twitter had approximately 18.2 million users in May 2009 (Nielsen Company, 2009), increasing to 27.2 million by January 2010 (Quantcast Corporation, 2010). As of 2010, the most-followed Twitter users are well-known organizations like CNN and Whole Foods, very famous people and public figures, from President Barack Obama to actor Ashton Kutcher and pop star Britney Spears. While Twitter can be used as a broadcast medium, the dialogic nature of Twitter and its ability to facilitate conversation has contributed substantially to its popularity.

This popularity has contributed to media fascination with the site. Unlike individuals famous primarily for their affiliation with social media properties, such as Tila Tequila on MySpace or Tay Zonday on YouTube, Twitter attracts actors, pop stars, authors, politicians, and others with established fame, such as Oprah Winfrey, Senator John McCain, Shaquille O’Neal and Weird Al. Although people known primarily for their online presence, like marketer Pistachio and video blogger iJustine, are well-represented on Twitter, the most-followed Twitter users are, for the most part, the conventionally famous.

Given this, we used Twitter to understand how celebrity is practiced through interactions between famous people and fans, friends, and other practitioners on Twitter. Part of the appeal of Twitter, as we will discuss, is the perception of direct access to a famous person, particularly ‘insider’ information, first-person pictures, and opinionated statements. Those celebrities who use Twitter primarily to ‘broadcast’ publicity information are seen as less authentic than those using the tool for dialogue and engagement with fans. One of our first methodological tasks was to work out who authored accounts of famous people.

Background of the Study

The  Special  Anti-Robbery  Squad  (SARS)  was  created  in  Lagos State in 1992, a time when Notorious armed robbers such as Shina Rambo6 were in control of the state (Midenda, 2017).


It was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover  operations  against  armed  robbers.  Within almost  two  decades  of  its  creation,  the  unit  has  spread  across the various states of the country. The spread of the unit across the nation without a proper structure, accounts for some of it lawless charcteristics.


The current report of police brutality using the #Endsars on Twitter has brought public attention to it. The online campaign about the police brutality is new, however, Nigerian pop stars has over the years expressed their worries, fears and incidents of police brutality.


The  Nigerian  movie  industry,  Nollywood  has  also portrayed cases of brutality and corruption within the Nigeran police force in their productions.Nigerians   having   been   subjected   to   wanton   arrests,   extortion  and  extra  judiciary  killings,  lunched  a  social  media  campaign  using  the  hastag  #Endsars  on  Twitter  to put an end to police brutality.


The #Endsars campaign started  with  the  publication  of  a  petition  by  convener  Segun  Awosanya.  It  was  signed  by  10,195  Nigerians and submitted to the Nigerian National Assembly to scrap the  police  unit.    The  Twitter  campaign  started  on  the  2nd of  December  2017,  when  a  footage  of  police  officers attached to the unit shot and killed a man surfaced online. The  campaign  became  a  trending  topic  on  Twitter  with  over  400,000  Tweets8  within  twelve  hours.


In October 2020, Nigerians turned the online campaign to protest. Nigerians  using 280 characters detailing their horrible and harrowing experiences  with  SARS,  the  dreaded  unit  of  the  police  created to fight banditry. Before the campaign, there have been isolated cases of police brutality all over the country. However,  it  was  during  the  campaign  that  the  damage  caused  by  such  brutality  was  discovered.


The  campaign  also exposed the level of rot within the police unit according to  the  convener  of  the  campaign.  The  campaign  further  revealed that the police has no recognizable structure with no organized system of operation, officers of the unit act based on self-will with little or no regards for fundamental human right for citizens especially vulnerable youth. This study therefore seek to investigate The role of twitter as a tool for political education a study of the Endsars protest

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