1st Annual African Elections Project Lectures
"Free, Fair and Facebook: Social Media Tracking of African Elections”
Michael Best, professor at the Sam Nunn School International Affairs
& School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of
June 30, 2014, at 5:30pm at New Media Hub, No 1 Otwe Close, Osu Ako Adjei, Accra
use of social media and crowdsourcing platforms is exploding across the
African continent, especially via mobile networks and featured
handsets. Over the last five years we have been developing new software
systems and organizational processes to monitor social media (from
Facebook to Twitter, Google+, Ushahidi, Mixit, and more) to help ensure
free and fair elections in Africa. Our Aggie social media aggregator and
monitoring software has been deployed during the Nigerian, Liberian,
Ghanaian, and Kenyan elections. These real-world election experiences
have demonstrated a number of strengths to our approach including: (1)
Meeting the electorate where they are.
(2) Technological neutrality.
(3) The need for working software that can handle high volumes of social media inputs.
(4) And the value of embedding team members with core stakeholders, such as election commissions and security organizations.
have shown that social media is routinely out front of traditional
media, police, formal observer missions, and electoral commission
offices in the identification of events and problems.
recent Ekiti state election in Nigeria we integrated the Aggie platform
with our mobile phone based field observation technology, called ELMO.
This allowed - for the first time - unified monitoring between social
media and formal observers, enabled through a single platform. In this
pilot project we demonstrated that formal observers and social media
compliment each other in interesting and powerful ways.