Black Twitter and Digital Counterpublics in South Africa

Kealeboga Aiseng


The growth of technology has made the Internet an essential tool in society. Scholars have argued that the Internet supports a more deliberative democracy. However, scholars have also raised concerns about the role of the Internet in political matters. While scholars agree that the Internet has facilitated broader public discussion, in many regards, its ‘virtual public sphere’ still mirrors existing social structures. Twitter has become a common social media platform for many South Africans. This has led to a virtual community of Twitter users engaged in real-time discourses primarily related to Black South Africans. Black Twitter in South Africa is used for social, political, and economic motivations. This study argues for the practice of Black Twitter as a digital counterpublic in South Africa. The aim is to spotlight how black people in South Africa have used Black Twitter as a digital counterpublic for the marginalized groups within South Africa. The research will investigate the potential challenges and opportunities associated with Black Twitter functioning as a digital counterpublic. Utilizing digital ethnography, the study gathered a dataset of tweets from Black Twitter in 2022, focusing on those addressing social, political, and economic issues. More than 700,000 tweets were identified under these specific thematic hashtags.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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