Mutsvairo, B. & Ragnedda, M. (2019). Does Digital Exclusion Undermine Social Media’s Democratizing Capacity? New Global Studies, doi:10.1515/ngs-2019-0035
Claims have been made that the advent of social media and its assumed ability to fuel social strife and organize anti-government protests has empowered people around the world to successfully challenge repressive authorities. However, in an era in which several issues ranging from digital colonialism to digital exclusion among other challenges, have become so dominant, it is our role as researchers to question some of these claims especially when they seem unsubstantiated. Sharing or finding solidarity is something that can be done on social media platforms but nothing is as critical as being part of the digital community. In that regard, questions surrounding digital exclusion are critical especially when discussing the extent to which social media influences democracy, questions that several scholars from every corner of the world are currently seized with. In this article, we not only identify social media’s potential but we also probe problems associated with beliefs that digital networks have the capacity to support democratization. Contemporary societies should be asking what the real gains of the fall of the Berlin Wall are in the work of these fundamental digital shifts, which have left both negative and positive outcomes on all countries including established Western democracies.