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People from Various African Countries Weigh in on Limiting Media Freedom

Thorny questions about media freedoms and democracy face African countries. On the one hand, empowering governments to limit media might undermine fragile democracies by allowing incumbents to squelch investigative reporting and opposition voices. On the other hand, free media bring potential problems. These include disinformation, hate speech and even calls to violence. A team of researchers from Afrobarometer worked on a project to understand how citizens think about media freedom. Afrobarometer is an independent, pan-African research organisation dedicated to the study of public opinion. In over a year, they focused on four countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. They found that citizens in these countries cannot be simply characterised as either for or against media freedom. People who supported democracy were more supportive of protecting the media from government interference. But this group swung behind the need for censorship when it came to hate speech and false information.