In The Gambia, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter are directly, and indirectly, shaping politics. Even though smartphone access
remains limited to a small percentage of citizens, these are often disproportionately influential individuals. Furthermore, information that is shared online regularly shapes offline debates and discussions on radio talk shows for example, meaning that its penetration, though hard to measure, is much wider than user data suggests.
The transformative impact of these platforms came to the fore in the democratic ouster of Yahya Jammeh in 2016. Political organisation
online, working closely with offline structures and actors, was key in uniting opposition and Jammeh’s defeat at the polls.
The same combination of online and offline mobilisation
was then critical in ensuring that those results were respected.