Social Media as an Alternative Political Forum in Ethiopia: the Case of Facebook

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Addis Ababa University


This study aims at examining how the social media, particularly the Facebook has been serving as an alternative forum for discussing politics in Ethiopia. The study was situated within the theoretical framework of Habermas public sphere. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. For the qualitative method, data gathering tools such as interview, observation, and text of Facebook postings were used. Interviews were conducted with sixteen activists, bloggers, journalists and politicians selected through convenience and snowball sampling methods. The data was collected from mid July to September 2012. For quantitative method, survey was used as a data gathering tool. The survey questionnaire was administered to 103 people selected through random sampling technique. Descriptive statistics was employed to analyze the quantitative data. The analysis of the data reveals that the social media in general and Facebook in particular is providing an alternative platform for those who have access to freely discuss political issues that would otherwise be off the limit in the conventional public sphere in the Ethiopian context. What is more, Faceook is even serving as a source for the mainstream media for political news and there by challenging the conventional role reserved for mainstream journalism. This being the case, however, Facebook use is facing challenges which could be classified into user-related challenges and government-related challenges. Based on the findings, some recommendations are suggested.



Political Forum in Ethiopia