The role of the social media as a source for political information: a case study on the use of facebook and twitter among selected youth in Nairobi, Kenya.
The growth of the Internet has brought with it new ways of communicating and interacting. Social networking sites have indeed become quite popular in the recent past especially among the urban population. This is as a result of the fact that SNSs are not only being accessed on computers but are also accessible on mobile devices. Majority of the mobile devices purchased today are more for online networks than for their telephone calls making and texting capabilities. The capability of social media to allow individuals to share their experiences, opinions and ideas being seen as an enabler for participation and democracy among citizens. The youth today engage a lot with the internet and particularly the SNS leading to the question if the SNSs can be used effectively to get them interest in political issues. This study sort to establish the role of the social media as a source for political information and in particular the use of Facebook and Twitter among the urban youth in Kenya. Its objectives were to investigate the use of social media to access political information by urban youth, their main objectives for engaging in it and if there was a direct link between social media and the youth perception of the political issues in Kenya. The research design used was Case Study of a selected population sample. Data collection method was through the use of questionnaires. The data collected from the study was both quantitative and qualitative. The study found that majority of the urban youth in Nairobi subscribe to Facebook with the second SNSs subscribed to being Twitter. In addition, half the urban youth population in Nairobi use social media to access political information. This makes Facebook a good avenue that can be harnessed for the sharing and exchange of political information in Kenya by both the youth and political elite as it is a tool that be used to reach, engage and interact with the youth. To reduce youth apathy to politics SNSs need to be used for the circulation of credible political information. In addition, SNSs should be used as a two-way rather than one-way communication system. Adequately responding to raised queries and also giving relevant information would inform and educate the youth thereby creating a more engaged citizenry.