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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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