Twitter, Elections and Gendered Disinformation Campaigns in Zimbabwe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The dominant narrative with regard to social media and politics in Africa has been informed by technological determinism, which fails to acknowledge the complexities and ambivalences of digital media technologies. Whilst social media has the potential to play a critical role in fostering robust and peaceful political campaigns, this chapter focuses on the various ways through which Twitter was weaponized and appropriated by cyber misogynists to engage in gendered disinformation campaigns during the 2018 July elections in Zimbabwe. Drawing on primary and secondary data, this chapter argues that besides, structural and direct violence, urban-based, young, unmarried, educated, widowed and highly visible female politicians were subjected to choreographed gendered disinformation campaigns on Twitter. The chapter also foregrounds the ways in which social and political identities overlap and intermingle in ways that further expose female candidates who dare to challenge male candidates in fierce electoral contests to dark forms of participation. It argues that hiding behind the clock of anonymity and fake accounts, cyber misogynists, trolls and militia resorted to attacking, threatening, smear campaigns, flooding social media and email inboxes of targeted female politicians with messages, which was meant to deter women’s full participation in civic space. This online form of electoral violence militates against the creation of gender-just and violence-free societies as well as attainment of gender justice in politics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Technologies, Elections and Campaigns in Africa
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages25-45
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781003800163
ISBN (Print)9781032551166
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences

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