(Dec. 2018 -Jan. 2019)
Analysis by Khadeja Ramali
This publication is produced by Democracy Reporting International, based on social media data analysis by Khadeja Ramali.
The publication is part of DRI’s project “Strengthening Libyan Civil Society Engagement on the Constitution and the Political Transition”, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Social Media Insights on UNSMIL, the UN Roadmap for Libya and the UN Special Envoy
The UN-backed plan for holding a Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference to end Libya’s political and security impasse was widely discussed on social media in December and January.
Most notably, Libya 24’s Facebook page published a post indicating that the UN-backed Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference was scheduled in February and was to be held in Sirte or Zawya. The news turned out to be a rumor, but only after it had been widely circulated online.
A series of reactions in the form of posts describing Libya as a chaotic reality with a confusing roadmap, or accusing UNSMIL of exclusionary bias, surfaced on Facebook and media pages.
They received a relatively large number of engagements ranging from 1.000 to 4.000. However, when Libya channel later published the UN statement refuting the rumor, it was not picked up by any other media outlet and received an insignificant number of engagements (168).
UNSMIL news continued to be the subject of many social media posts during the month of January. The website Libya24.tv published 89 articles on UNSMIL receiving significant engagement (30% of all engagement on UN).
Libyaakhbar.com ranked second with a 25% share of the total number of engagements despite publishing a higher number of related posts (91).
Six out of the top 10 articles on UNSMIL were published by Almarsad.co, displaying anti-Salame sentiments. The number of total engagements with them were relatively high, ranging from 2.000 to 3.500.
The chart below shows four peaks over the month of January in relation to UNSMIL:
• On 14 January, Libyan politicians and public figures accused Special Envoy Salame of overstepping his mandate.
• On 18 January, Dr. Arif Nayed, a Libyan businessman and a Presidential hopeful, made comments about UN Envoy Salame’s remarks on progress in Libya.
• On 22 January, Salame released a statement to clarify his remarks regarding the delay of the elections.
• On 30 January, Ashour Shwayel, the former Minister of Interior, described the planned Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference as vague and unclear in terms of the goal and the roadmap.
Pages like I am Libyan and my Wife is Libyan published a sponsored anti-Salame post. It referred to the recent truce brokered in Tripoli by Bani Walid tribes and argued that Libya does not need Salame’s intervention.
The post received 21.000 engagements and 2.500 comments. This is five times higher than similar unsponsored posts on other pages.
Analysis of these comments showed a similar tone responding to the posts and a call to action for peace in Libya.
Out of 108 Facebook posts on Salame/UNSMIL, 86 displayed negative sentiments, making these points:
• Salame did not recognize the LNA in his UN Briefing
• An UNSMIL statement criticized the LNA’s movements in the south of Libya
• Salame was perceived to favor Sarraj and the GNA over Benghazi
• Salame’s remarks about delaying elections were misunderstood and misinterpreted.
The monitoring data suggests, that the anti-Salame campaign on social media originated from, and was mainly promoted by, LNA supporter.
The Libya Mandela page (pro Saif Gaddafi) posted a video about Salame’s remarks on the timing of elections, using the latest feud between Libya and Lebanon – Salame’s country of origin – to discredit him.
However, in January, only an estimated 399 posts related to UNSMIL were published on Facebook. As per the below figure, user attention to Salame related news was fading away by the end of the month.
Part 4: Gender and Social Media in Libya
Khadeja Ramali, 27, is a geophysicist and co-founder of Project Silphium. She is currently collaborating with Libyan women’s Radio Network Project, which aims to expand the capacity of women media professionals in Libya.