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Social media report on the EFF National Shutdown

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC)'s new report analyses the online conversation around recent EFF's National Shutdown, while also looking out for instances of narrative distortion.
Source: © Pixabay  A Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change report analyses the online conversation around recent EFF’s National Shutdown
Source: © Pixabay pexels A Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change report analyses the online conversation around recent EFF’s National Shutdown

The report follows on as a continuation from the previous protest report, Protest Narrative Deep Dive Report, which unpacked how the protest narrative against load shedding was hijacked by ill-meaning actors to sow division in society by hijacking the conversation about load shedding to serve factional squabbles.

South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis - to the extent of Stage 6 power cuts, has given rise to a number of protests since the beginning of the year.

Organised by civil society and political parties alike, the core mandate has always been to urge Eskom and government to come up with a solution to the rolling blackouts and prevent further destruction to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Despite the validity of these concerns, not all parties have acted in the interest of fellow citizens. Most recently, the EFF mobilised its own protest that they referred to as a “National Shutdown”.

This had been in the planning stages since late February. Its success remains a matter of public debate, however, the party geared the shutdown towards contesting load shedding and calling for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Social media analysis

Researchers conducted social media analysis to understand the sub-themes within the conversation.

They found that:

  • Within the National Shutdown conversation, keywords that had been tagged with “Ramaphosa” and variations of his name, including “phala phala” and #CR17bankstatements accounted for 65% of all mentions.
  • Around 7% of the mentions in the National Shutdown conversation related to issues of looting, riots and violence, while 9% related to issues of service delivery.
  • Accounts driving #RamaphosaMustGo were found from the official page of The African Transformation Movement and by account @54Battalion - An account that claims to be standing next to the EFF in his bio and has a cover photo with EFF members.
  • Four accounts were identified as displaying suspicious behaviour within the national shutdown conversation. This behaviour includes high usage of #NationalShutdown, and a high volume of retweets over original content.
  • Accounts posting incendiary content and those that undermined freedom of the press were also identified.

Find the full report here.

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