Techtarget.com defines Social media as a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.
According to DATAREPORTAL as of January 2021, there were 9.15 million internet users in Cameroon. The number of internet users in Cameroon increased by 1.3 million (+16%) between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration in Cameroon stood at 34.0% in January 2021. Out of these internet users, there are 4.30 million social media users in Cameroon in January 2021 with an equivalent to 16.0% of the total population. Meanwhile 26.60 million mobile connections equivalent to 99.0% of the total population.
Globally, a total of 5.03 billion people around the world use the internet today – equivalent to 63.1 percent of the world’s total population.
The total number of internet users all over the world can be beneficial as well as detrimental to the society. Considering a greater population of a country is one way or the other connected to the internet, particularly youths can bring in some good tidings to a country as well as inflame certain ills.
In the case of Cameroon, the internet and social media came with a lot of mix blessings as it doesn’t not only portray prosperous and developmental contents but also unhealthy ills such as prostitution and the ongoing sociopolitical armed conflict in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon. This is done through the various social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube and others where contents are being shared and received by internet users. In this case, we will be examining how profitable and detrimental social media has been in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon and what inhabitants bear in mind.
Social Media as Bad influence
The numerous platforms of social media has had some derogatory effects in the English speaking regions of Cameroon breathing confusion, promiscuity, separation, frustration and more, bearing in mind these fora are to share and receive information.
A state of Confusion has become the order of the day especially with the issue of imposed lockdowns in Anglophone regions of Cameroon. In a video posted on Ambazonia Military Force Facebook page September 11, 2022, a man is seen in mask announcing lockdown from Monday 12 September to 16 of September 2022.
In another video published by Prince J Carr September 7, 2022, a separatist fighter who is armed declares that the lockdown earlier announced will last till October 5, 2022 before schools in the English speaking regions of Cameroon will reopen. As a result of such publications, coupled with the number of likes, shares and views on these post inhabitants of the city were left wondering whether to go on with their normal day to day activities or enroll their children in schools after such threads.
Social Media announcing false deaths: In a video footage making rounds on the social media posted on August 25, 2022 by Cameroon News Today, prominent Ambazonia General No Pity is seen lying on a bed with cotton in his nostrils and a bandage wrapped around his left thigh indicating the fighter may have died due to excess bleeding from the alleged gunshot wound. In the footage, another separatist fighter presumed to be his second in command could be seen offering a last prayer and after the prayer, the body of the General was carried to an unknown destination for burial. Ambazonia activist; Paul Nilong has confirmed the death of General No Pity in a live Facebook video saying he was a brave General and urged Ambazonians to take heart, adding that the revolution is not for the chicken heart. Meanwhile several others say the information is fake. This is not the only instance of false deaths announced on social media
This is not the only instance of false deaths announced on social media other platforms also hold it that the governor of the North West region Adolphe Lele L’Afrique was killed in an attack. While Bareta News states that he is no where to be found.
Social Media and Encouraging promiscuity: several sites, pages and handles have surfaced on the social media encouraging prostitution.
Social media has also gone along way in breathing intertribal conflict. Recently in a post uploaded and deleted by TOS Man II on his Facebook page, it tries to compare the beauty of Kom and Nkambe girls claiming Kom girls represented by Jackie Chindo are more beautiful than Nkambe girls who is represented by a certain Nfor Emerencia of Nkambe.
Despite the Societal ills caused by Social media, there are positive aspects which help its users. Advertising Businesses, Job search, promoting customs and traditions, education are all positive impacts of. Business persons nowadays use Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to advertise their products and sell online. This is done through the creation of WhatsApp fora, Facebook pages and websites where they upload available products, prices, location and how the products can be gotten which is another form of publicity and easy access. Others use it to advertise their creative works, comedy.
Several villages in the North West region have created Facebook pages, some with telegram groups where information concerning the tribe are being shared. Interesting enough is the fact that these platforms are used to post contents about the history, customs and traditions, fons, functions of various leading personalities of the clan.
Considering the high level of unemployment in Cameroon with the North West and South West region’s inclusive, Job opportunities are often shared on some social media platforms created. Youth abd job seekers go online to research on pages for opportunities. Several WhatsApp fora have also been created whereby job opportunities are posted to help the unemployed.
Blogs such as DrayInfos, Observer237, TFY Blog, Mbuh Stella official, promo info, bangs info and many other blogs in the North West region have all taken a firm commitment updating the public on their various platforms with day to day happens in the region and country.
The perception and ways in which people usually think is gradually changing as time goes on. When the peaceful protest started late 2016, people’s ideologies in the North West and South West regions were all tilted towards independence in the shortest time frame. As time went on, many happening came to play which has morphed the sociopolitical unrest to an armed conflict. School activities have been halted, some destroyed, students killed some kidnapped and tortured, lives have been lost, businesses abd a lot has happened. The independence expected is becoming far-fetched coupled with the atrocities, many now think it’s all fake as expressed on posts on social media.
A Unified body should be created or an organized chain of sharing information should be made available for the sharing of information about the proclaimed Ambazonia country and its happenings.
Inhabitants are also called upon to be very cautious on what they pick online or what they consider as truth online. This is because fake accounts and unidentified persons who do exist online spreading dis/mal information.
In all, Social Media users are advices to chose what to see online and to always report accounts which you think are not appropriate. Our society today is being damaged by what we see online, therefore persons should rather use these platforms for positive outcomes and not the other way round.