Social Media and Political Propaganda: A double-edged Sword for Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria

Osimen Goddy Uwa*

Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria
Adeyefa Christianah Ronke**
Department of Mass Communication, Joseph Ayobabalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji. Osun State, Nigeria



Social media serves as a powerful tool for politicians to engage with voters and drive the conversation in their favor. Still, the authenticity and accuracy of online information can be questionable as there are currently no mechanisms in place to regulate or sanction the spread of false or misleading information on social media, making it even more challenging to combat the proliferation of political propaganda. Also, the prevalent availability and lack of mechanisms to checkmate it allows individuals and political actors to spread misleading information which causes a significant problem. Therefore, the trust of this paper was to examine the role of social media platforms specifically Facebook and Twitter, as well as the gaps and challenges in identifying the dissemination and amplification of political propaganda in Nigeria. The study utilized qualitative research and was analyzed descriptively. The study revealed that social media promotes political propaganda and manipulates the perception of the electorate which changes the outcome of elections.  Ultimately, the paper argues that a comprehensive approach is needed to regulate the spread of political propaganda on social media platforms in Nigeria, which include; the creation of digital literacy programs that focuses on media literacy and online etiquette, deeper cooperation between the Nigerian government and social media platforms to curb the spread of political propaganda, the establishment of legal frameworks to punish offenders, mitigating political propaganda are some of the recommendations highlighted in this study.

Keywords:  Social media, Political Propaganda, Election, Politic, Nigeria


  • Abimbola, K. (2019). Next Level: Buhari’s elusive second term manifesto. The Punch. Retrieved from
  • Akanbi, S. (2016). Discourse of Buharism in Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election: A critical analysis. Journal of African Elections, 15(2), 57-79.
  • Akoja, M. I., & Jiboku, M. E. News as a source of political propaganda in a Nigerian state government-owned television station. Journal of Communication and Media Research, 12 (2): 64 – 73.
  • Alhabash S., Ma M. (2017). A tale of four platforms: Motivations and uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat among college students. Social Media + Society, 3(91), 1–13.
  • Alhassan, A.A., (2018). The Role and Use of Social Media in Elections Campaigns and Voting Behavior in Nigeria: An Analysis of 2015 Presidential Election. International Journal of Recent Innovations in Academic Research, 2(6), pp.117-129
  • American Historical Association. (2018) Official website of the American Historical Association. United States. [Web Archive] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • Ankerson, M.S. (2015) ‘Social media and the “read-only” web: reconfiguring social logics and historical boundaries’, Social Media + Society, 1(2): 1–12
  • Areo, M.O. &Areo, A.B (2016). Political propaganda, aesthetic and sustainable environment. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, No. 2, pp. 9-20
  • Arowolo, O. (2017). An Exposition on framing theory. Unpublished paper. Lagos State University. Retrieved from: Theory.pdf.
  • Austin, L., Fisher, D., & Nadeau, R. (2012). The role of social networks in the 2011 Canadian federal election: Dialogue, mobilization, and persuasion. Journal of Communication, 62(5), 739-756.
  • Amenyeawu, B.E. (2021). Social Media and Political Campaign Communication in Ghana.School of Professional Studies. 79.
  • Boulianne, S. (2015). Social media use and participation: A meta-analysis of current research. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), 524-538.
  • Boyd, D., & Deogracias, A., (2015). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens: Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2014, pp. 296, ISBN 973-0-300-16631-6.
  • Broersma, M., and Graham.T., (2016). “Tipping the Balance of Power Social Media and the Transformation of Political Journalism.” In The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, ed. Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olaf Larsson and Christian Christensen, 89–103. New York: Routledge
  • Brügger, N., & Milligan, I. (2019). The SAGE handbook of web history. SAGE Publications Ltd,
  • Calderaro, A. (2018). Social Media and Politics. (Vols. 1-2). SAGE Publications Ltd,
  • Çela, E. (2015). Social media as a new form of public sphere. European Journal of Social Science Education and Research, 2(3), 195-200.
  • Ceron, A., Curini, L., & Iacus, S. (2017). “First and Second Level Agenda Setting in the Twitter-Sphere: An Application to the Italian Political Debate.” Journal of Information Technology & Politics 13 (2): 159–174. doi:10.1080/19331681.2016.1160266
  • Chadwick, A. (2017). The hybrid media system: Politics and power. Oxford University Press. 2nd edn, Oxford Studies in Digital Politics. Retreived from
  • Chang, K., & Park, J. (2020). Social media use and participation in dueling protests: The case of the 2016-2017 presidential corruption scandal in South Korea. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 26(3), 547–567.
  • Couldry, N., & Hepp, A. (2017). The mediated construction of reality. Polity Press. Media, Culture & Society, 41(1), 158–160.
  • Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58.
  • Esser, F., & Strömbäck, J. (2014). Mediatization of politics: Understanding the transformation of Western democracies. Palgrave Macmillan. Springer.
  • Farkas, J., & Neumayer, C. (2020). Disguised propaganda from digital to social media. Second International Handbook of Internet Research, 707-723.
  • Friggeri, A., Adamic, L. A., Eckles, D., Eckhart, N., & Leskovec, J. (2014). Rumor Cascades. Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, ICWSM 2014, 1010-1020.
  • Fuchs, C. (2017) Social Media: A Critical Introduction. 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Garzia, D., 2017. Personalization of politics between television and the Internet: Leader effects in the 2013 Italian parliamentary election. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 14(4), 403-416.
  • Gottfried, Jeffrey, and Elisa Shearer. 2016. “News Use across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center,Washington, DC
  • Guess, A., & Lyons, B. (2020). Misinformation, Disinformation, and Online Propaganda. In N.Persily & J. Tucker (Eds.), Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field, Prospects for Reform (SSRC Anxieties of Democracy, pp. 10-33). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Haigh, M., Haigh, T., & Kozak, N. I. (2018). Stopping fake news: The work practices of peer-to-peer counter propaganda. Journalism Studies, 19(14), 2062-2087.
  • Harsin, J. (2015). Regimes of post truth, post politics, and attention economies. Communication, Culture & Critique, 8(2), 327-333.
  • Hasan,S. (2010). Mass Communication Principles and Concept. New Delhi: CBS Publishers, distributors PVT Limited.
  • Ibeanu, O. (2015). Election management in Nigeria: The role of INEC. In P. Nwosu & O. Jega (Eds.), Perspectives on the Nigerian State and Society (pp. 77-101). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Inobemhe, K., Ugber, F., Ojo, I. L., & Santas, T. (2020). New media and the proliferation of fake news in Nigeria. Nasarawa Journal of Multimedia and Communication Studies, 2(2), 155-169.
  • Jenkins, H., Ford, S., and Green, J. (2016) Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York: NYU Books
  • Jeong, S. (2015) The Internet of Garbage. New York: Forbes Media, 978-0-692-18121-8
  • Johnson, M. (2015) History of social media Part III ( ) Date Accessed: 17 June 2018
  • Jowet , G.S., & O’Donnell V (2012) Propaganda and Persuasion. SAGE Publications, Los Angeles 5th edition, 9781506371344
  • Kalogeropoulos, A., Newman, N., & Fletcher, R. (2018). Newsroom use of source material in a digital age: Professional logics and news making practices. Journalism Studies, 19(5), 642-660.
  • Karamat, A. and Farooq, D.A., 2020. Emerging role of social media in political activism: Perceptions and practices. South Asian Studies, 31(1).
  • Kiousis, S. (2002). Interactivity: A concept explication. New Media & Society, 4(3), 355-383.
  • Larsson, A. O., & Moe, H. (2018). Twitter and agenda-setting in the Norwegian election campaign of 2017. Media International Australia, 168(1), 26-41.
  • Lechman, E., & Brighton, J., (2019) Political Propaganda & Social Media: A Project Summary and Critique. Retrieved from
  • Mamman, Y. (2019). The influence of social media on political culture in Nigeria: A political perception of state assembly members from 2015 elections to date. The Beam: Journal Arts and Sciences, 12(1), 66-70.
  • Marino, C., Finos, L., Vieno, A., Lenzi, M., &Spada, M. M. (2017). Objective Facebook behaviour: Differences between problematic and non-problematic users. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 541–546.
  • Milligan, I. (2017) ‘Welcome to the Web: The Online Community of GeoCities During the Early Years of the World Wide Web’, in N. Brügger and R. Schroeder (eds.), The Web as History. Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present. London: UCL Press. pp. 137–158
  • Ngoa, N. (2011). A review & analytical narrative of propaganda activities: A Nigerian perspective. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(16), 237-248.
  • Nwankwo, C. (2019). Bandwagon propaganda technique in Nigerian politics: A study of the 2019 presidential election. Journal of African Elections, 18(2), 77-101.
  • Obisesan, O. F. (2022). The ‘# tag Generation’: Social Media and Youth Participation in the perception of state assembly members from 2015 elections to date. The Beam: Journal Arts and Sciences, 12(1), 66-70.
  • Okoro, E. A., Van der Veen, R., & De Leeuw, S. (2018). The Role of Social Media in Propaganda: The Case of Boko Haram in Nigeria. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (pp. 372-381). ACM.
  • Okoro, E. M., Abara, B. A., Umagba, A. O., Ajonye, A. A., & Isa, M. S. (2018). A hybrid approach to fake news detection on social media. Nigerian Journal of Technology, 37(2), 454-462.
  • Olorunnipa, T. & Adamu, A. (2015). Boko Haram sponsor tag: Jonathan’s new campaign tactic. Vanguard. Retrieved from
  • Olukoya, S. & Ajayi, J. (2019). Ethnicity, religion, and political propaganda in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections. Journal of African Elections, 18(2), 123-143.
  • Oparaugo, C. (2021). Social media and politics in Nigeria: A conceptual framework. International Journal of Research and Scholarly Communication, 4(1). Retrieved from
  • Owolabi, A. (2019). Nigeria election: Buhari campaign accuses Atiku of planning to sell Nigeria’s assets. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  • Oyeyinka, Ojo & Ayoboluis, & Onaopepo, Ibrahim. (2021). Mass media, Political propaganda and political campaign messages in Nigerian societies: assessment of Political Stakeholders Perceptions in Selected Local Government Areas of Oyo State, Southwest Zone, Nigeria. International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science. 05. 509-516. 10.47772/IJRISS.2021.5828.
  • Pennycook, G., Rand, D. G., & Imas, A. (2020). Fighting misinformation on social media using crowdsourced judgments of news source quality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(6), 2772-2778
  • Peters, D. (2022). Social media as the new wrestling ground.
  • Rosen, Jay. 2012. “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.” In The Social Media Reader. ed. Mandiberg, Michael. NYU
  • Rufai, Ibrahim Kayode (2021) The Impact of Social Media on University of Ilorin Undergraduates’ Level of Political Participation in the 2019 Nigeria General Elections.
  • Sæbø, Ø., & Enli, G. S. (2016). The political social media ecology: Party tactics and the online media agenda in the Norwegian election campaign of 2013. New Media & Society, 18(8), 1787-1804.
  • Sajithra, K. and Patil, R. (2013) ‘Social Media – History and Components’, IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 7(1): 69–74.
  • Salaudeen, Kamoru. (2017). The Changing Face of Political Communication in Nigeria: A Do-Or-Die Media Game. Mass media and the electoral process in Nigeria, 209-220.
  • Salman, A., Mustaffa, N., MohdSalleh, M. A., & Ali, M. N. S. (2016). Social media and agenda setting: Implications on political agenda. Jurnal Komunikasi Malaysian Journal Of Communication, 32(1), 401-414.
  • Sanchez-Querubin, N. (2017) ‘The Wounded Healers of Instagram’, Paper presented at Trauma Studies in the Digital Age workshop, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Amsterdam, 10–12 May
  • Tandoc, E. C., Lim, Z. W., & Ling, R. (2018). Defining “fake news”: A typology of scholarly definitions. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 137-153.
  • Treem, J.W., Dailey, S.L., Pierce, C.S. and Biffl, D. (2016) ‘What We Are Talking About When We Talk About Social Media: A Framework for Study’, Sociology Compass, 10(9): 768–784.
  • Urgola, S., and Runyon, C. (2016) ‘Participatory archives: Building on traditions of collaboration, openness, and accessibility at the American University in Cairo’, in Raymond Pun, Scott Collard and Justin Parrott (Eds.), Bridging Worlds: Emerging Models and Practices of U.S. Academic Libraries Around the Globe. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. pp.91–103.
  • Vamanu, I. (2019). Fake news and propaganda: A critical discourse research perspective. Open Information Science, 3(1), 197-208.
  • Van Dijck, J. (2011) ‘Tracing Twitter: The Rise of a Microblogging Platform’, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 7(3); 333–348.
  • Vargo, C. J., Guo, L., Amazeen, M. A., & Kim, Y. M. (2018). The agenda-setting power of fake news: A big data analysis of the online media landscape from 2014 to 2016. New Media & Society, 20(5), 2028-2049.
  • Vicari, S., & Bolognesi, M. (2019). Agenda-setting and framing in social media: An analysis of Italian Facebook posts during the 2018 electoral campaign. Media International Australia, 172(1), 47-63.
  • Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 359(6380), 1146-1151.
  • Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017). Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making. Council of Europe.
  • Waisbord, S. (2018). The media as amplifiers of political propaganda. In Propaganda and Information Warfare in the 21st Century (pp. 53-72). Routledge.
  • West, D.M (2017). How to combat fake News and Disinformation: Brookings, USA.
  • Yousuf, M., & Alam, M. S. (2021). Use of Social Media in Politics-: A quantitative study of how political activities on social media affect People aged 20-39 in South East Asia.
  • Zimmer, M. (2015) ‘The Twitter archive at the Library of Congress: Challenges for information practice and information policy’, First Monday, 20(7), 53-78.