Both Madagascar and South Africa go to the polls this week. They’re just two of the 20 African nations set to vote during 2024 and, as is the case elsewhere in the world, technology will play a key role in the elections. Maxwell Maseko explains the potential threats and benefits that digital technologies – like e-voting systems and social media – pose to democracy on the continent.

In the digital era, social media can be a site of bullying and discrimination. But a new study of openly queer TikTokkers in Zimbabwe reveals that the opposite is also true. Thanks to TikTok’s more engaged algorithm and to the frank, hilarious and brave LGBTIQ+ users on TikTok, Zimbabweans are showing that same-sex love is normal and healthy, even in a homophobic society. Princess Sibanda and Gibson Ncube discuss their research.

We’ve published various articles over the years which highlight the many uses of social media - from fighting crime to job searches. We’ve included some of these in this newsletter.

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Natasha Joseph

Commissioning Editor

Democracy in Africa: digital voting technology and social media can be a force for good – and bad

Maxwell Maseko, University of the Witwatersrand

Digital technologies can help more people to participate in building their countries’ democracies.

TikTok activism: how queer Zimbabweans use social media to show love and fight hate

Gibson Ncube, Stellenbosch University; Princess Sibanda, University of Fort Hare

These social media posts aren’t just for fun – they’re a way to fight back against discrimination and show the world that queer love is powerful and important.

Social media content in times of war: an expert guide on how to keep violence off your feeds

Megan Knight, University of Hertfordshire

Whatever approach you take to managing your feeds, remain cautious and sceptical.

Looking for work? 3 tips on how social media can help young South Africans

Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi, University of Fort Hare; Liezel Cilliers, University of Fort Hare; Obrain Tinashe Murire, Walter Sisulu University

By building and maintaining a personal brand, young social media users can identify work opportunities.

From our international editions


We found over 300 million young people had experienced online sexual abuse and exploitation over the course of our meta-study

Deborah Fry, The University of Edinburgh

Our new report has produced the world’s first estimate of the scale of online child sexual exploitation.


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