Global series: politics in the age of social media

US president Donald Trump, who gets on Twitter the moment he wakes up, may be social media’s most prominent politician user, but he is hardly the only one. For the past two decades, world leaders have leveraged the power of the internet to communicate with the public. In some nations, digital tools are part of an effort to increase government transparency and accountability. In others, they are a platform for propaganda, censorship and fake news.

The Conversation Global’s series Politics in the Age of Social Media examines the varied ways that governments around the world rely on digital tools to exercise power.

Can social media, loud and inclusive, fix world politics? Can social media create opportunities to identify government pitfalls and challenge problematic policies? Perhaps, but many government are wary of the power that technology exerts over citizens’ political involvement.

Kazakhstan’s government is using social media to tame rebellion. Forget old-school state propaganda. Kazakhstan’s government has reinvented itself through social media, helping to keep uprisings at bay.

Narendra Modi, India’s social media star, struggles to get government online. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows how to use social media in politics. But the rest of his government? Not so much.

Latin American presidents love Twitter – and that’s not a good sign. When leaders of weak democracies use social media to connect with their constituents, people feel heard. But Twitter responses won’t give citizens what they need.

African governments versus social media: Why the uneasy relationship? This is election year for several African countries and there’s a need to ensure social media isn’t used to incite violence. But can governments be prevented from restricting citizens’ rights?

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