News / Africa

Ivory Coast Debate Lights Up on Twitter

Many participants in the Ivory Coast Twitter discussion are newcomers to the micro-blogging website, Dec 2010
Many participants in the Ivory Coast Twitter discussion are newcomers to the micro-blogging website, Dec 2010

While Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo resists pressure to leave power after a recent election in which the United Nations says he was defeated, the controversy has given rise to a lively debate on the social micro-blogging website Twitter.

So-called threads, or ongoing discussions, on the Twitter website are identified by a hash mark and a certain code, so participants can easily find each other through a basic search. One of those who initiated the "CIV2010" Twitter code before this year's presidential election in divided Ivory Coast was Mohamed Diaby.

Diaby, an Abidjan-based web entrepreneur, said he is surprised at how the discussion has gained participants in the past few weeks, and that some newcomers had never used Twitter before.

The Twitter discussion has gained interest as two Ivorian political leaders, sitting President Gbagbo and his challenger, Alassane Ouattara both claim to have won the November 28th run-off election. The first was certified the winner by the country's constitutional council that threw out votes from the rebel-held north, and the second was certified by the United Nations as part of a peace deal.

A participant who wants to be identified only by his first name, Kanigui, says Twitter has become a very useful tool to stay informed within Ivory Coast. He said foreign media have been cut off in southern Ivory Coast, meaning most residents have had to rely on state media extremely favorable to Mr. Gbagbo's position for their information. The Twitter discussion, he explained, with all its links to other information, as well as its diversity of opinions, gives a broad horizon of sources.

Kanigui said that unlike other social media websites where comments have quickly become violent and divisive, the Twitter discussion has remained in his words, responsible, calm, courteous and professional.

He said initiators like Diaby, who also play the role of virtual moderators, check on rumors that are posted, quickly call these out if they are found to be false, and only retweet - that is disseminate again - information that is found to be accurate.

Participants include not only Ivorians, both in and out of the country, but West Africans in general, as well as French nationals, Americans and concerned citizens around the world. Journalists, such as Kwesi Pratt from Ghana's Insight Newspaper, also have found the discussion useful.

"The twitter feed brings out the real feelings of people," said Pratt. "It is not like the traditional media, which has to go through some norms and so on. Twitter is the real feeling of the people. It is much, much better."

One of those digging the Internet to find new information to post in the discussion is Senam Beheton, a Benin national, who works in the United States and West Africa on technology-based learning and teaching. He went to high school in Ivory Coast.

"I think there will be a before and after "#CIV2010" - meaning Cote d'Ivoire 2010 - and the reason is that it includes not just Ivorians, you have all kinds of nationalities," said Beheton. "In Benin, for example, we have elections coming up in March and it is going to be interesting to see how Twitter is used, but I can guarantee you that it is going to be central as well."

In the meantime, in Ivory Coast, Diaby, one of the initiators of the current Ivory Coast Twitter discussion, said he does not content himself with just sitting behind a computer, but also makes the rounds of Abidjan to see what is happening, so he can better play his self-appointed role of online information moderator.

He said he has received threats against his safety, but his role as online information moderator is worth the risks involved.

The latest tweets centered around the arrival of soldiers loyal to President Gbagbo who were trying to surround the hotel where his rival, Mr. Ouattara, has established his headquarters, protected by former rebels and U.N. peacekeepers.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid