Has Social Media Shed Light on Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis?

Over the past two years conflict has escalated in North West and South West Cameroon. Cameroon is a bilingual country (English and French) and these two regions are the country’s English-speaking areas. The conflict started when lawyers and teachers held strikes over the increasing use of French in English courts and schools. Since then, what began as nonviolent protest has grown into a conflict that threatens to become a civil war. Given this unfolding situation, researchers have examined how various groups – including the government, Anglophone activists, media organisations and citizens – used social media to report on events. Cameroon has a history of suppression and control over the media. The government only allowed independent mass media to operate from the 1990s and most media was state-owned. In this context, social media could provide the opportunity to expand coverage of certain issues in a way that wasn’t possible before and in turn influence policy and perceptions.The indings of the study show that the actual impacts of activists’ and citizens’ attempts to garner international attention using Twitter – when they shared horrific images of killings and destruction – did not get the results they hoped for. And these attempts to increase awareness did not appear to reduce the violence, at least during the time of our study. However, there is growing international awareness with recent reports about human rights abuses and how the Cameroon crisis is one of the most neglected.SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION

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