#KenMustStay: When it trends, query the tweets!
Entry type: Single project
Publishing organisation: Myjoyonline.com, Joynews TV
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 2022-12-22
Authors: Joojo Cobbinah
I am a Ghanaian human rights activist with over ten years experience advocating for the basic principles and freedoms of people in Africa. I am a storyteller, communications strategist, and photographer, passionate about using the media to publicize human rights violations. I have strong research and interview skills with demonstrated experience using compelling narratives to advocate for social change. I have a bachelors degree in Communications Studies and Mphil in Human rights and democratisation in Africa.
In 2022, Ghana’s economy almost crashed. This forced government of Ghana to engage the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. Ghanaians blamed Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta for mismanaging the economy and clamoured for his dismissal. The tweets garnered from the #KenMustGo were largely organic. Over 9660 Twitter users used the hashtag. A counternarrative #KenMustStay emerged. 292 users of Twitter wanted the finance minister to stay. This project tracked #KenMustGo and #KenMustStay. #KenMustStay narrative was largely inorganic. The coordinated sharing of scripted messages exposed in this work showed how social media is used to paint a false narrative.
This project exposed many sockpuppet twitter accounts that called for the Finance Minister to stay in office. After the investigation, the 292 tweet accounts were exposed and stopped the coordinated sharing of tweets under the #KenMustStay.
The public became aware that #KenMustStay was a fake trend. The story generated widespread discussions.
1. Truthnest: I used the application to analyse the tweets of the users. This helped me identify the number of times Twitter accounts had used a particular hashtag. It also showed the link between Twitter users tweeting one hashtag. The application made it easy for me to see the coordinated nature of the users of #KenMustStay. Truth nest also helped me identify the accounts that are BOTS.
2. Tweetbeaver: This application helped me to easily to find linkages between Twitter users. It helped me easily the relationship between Twitter users.
3. Meltwater helped me to know the number of tweets garnered under the two hashtags. It made it easy for me to monitor the tweet behaviours of various twitter users under investigation.
Context about the project:
In Ghana, we have a group of people on social media called “Agenda Boys” These people are usually accused of taking money and pushing a particular narrative. They have a network of people who have created faceless accounts and send large volumes of tweets and make any hashtag appear in trends. These people can create a false narrative. If care is not taken, the public and policymakers may be swayed by the views expressed on social media. People have known about the existence of “Agenda Boys” but this is the first time a journalist has exposed their work.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
Journalists can learn not to take any social media trend at face value but query those trends and unmask the truth.