Are African Governments Facebook Illiterate?
Governments of 74 countries requested Facebook to provide them with Facebook’s users’ data to facilitate investigations on serious crimes such as kidnapping and robberies. Facebook reported that the nature of the requests seek to get basic user information such as names and membership duration. Some requests wanted to know IP address logs or actual account content. US government topped the lists on the requests made (12,000) for some 21,000 user accounts.
In Africa, however, there are only four countries out of 55 that made requests to Facebook and these are South Africa that made 14 requests for information about some 9 Facebook accounts, Egypt which made 8 requests for 11 accounts, Botswana made 3 requests for 7 accounts and Uganda made 1 request for 1 account. In total Africa made 26 requests (0.1% of total requests) for 28 accounts (0.07% of accounts requested). This is an insignificant figures when compared to the requests made by US.
The insignificant requests made by African governments could be due to the low Internet usage in the continent. According to data posted in Internet World Stats, Africa accounts for only 7% of Internet users, with Internet penetration of 15.6% compared to the rest of the world’s penetration of 37.7%. Another implication could be African governments are not generally “aware” of the value they may obtain from accessing Facebook user data in regards to ongoing criminal or otherwise investigations. Or, it may just that the governments are not social media “literate”.
I think the last point is closer to the truth. African Governments are illiterate when it comes to Facebook and social media.