The truth is that before now social networking tools like Facebook, Blackberry Messenger and Twitter had only be seen and used more as adult dating sites and platforms in Nigeria. The major reason people wanted to be on these social networking sites was to be able to share their pictures, chat and perform general social interactions.
This single act is of course not a bad thing but it is an under-utilization of these platforms considering how fast information can spread virally on these networks.
However, in the recent revolution of Nigerian citizens against their Federal government which led to the strike action of the labour groups, these social networks played the key during the whole exercise. Information about rally meetings, government wasteful spendings in facts and figures, news updates, and so on were disseminated in form of tweets, photos, Facebook status updates, Blackberry Messenger broadcasts and so on across the social networks. These actions increased the awareness of the public which inspired the resoluteness of the rallies and protests.
Although the traditional media including newspapers, radio and television were actively involved in the coverage of these events and activities, they could not cover all the aspects like the way it was being covered on the social networking sites and platform. This is mostly because of the limits imposed on these traditional media channels.
Another reason the social networking platforms were more useful apart from its speed is the anonymity. Once an information is out, it is really difficult to trace its source. This gave people more freedom of speech since they might not be held responsible for the damaging effects of the words.
A lot of music artistes like Tha Suspect also took the situation as an advantage to connect more with their fans by releasing music songs and videos. The successful songs and videos spread virally across this social network platforms.
The fact that they use modern communications tools to co-ordinate their activities or to disseminate news is quite similar to the communards of 1871 who used cobblestones to build barricades. People use the tools they have to hand. So the prominence of social networking and SMS in political upheaval is simply a measure of the extent to which these technologies have become mundane.
In conclusion, these social networks are serving as information networks helping people discover new facts about the society and the government. These facts can then be used to improve the society by making governments more accountable and people more aware of bad governance.