Common Digital Platforms in Cameroon and their usage
Since the introduction of the internet and subsequent use of social media in Cameroon in early 2000, there has been a steady increase in the number of users per year. By December 2000, Cameroon had 20,000 internet users and by June 2019, internet users in Cameroon drastically increased to 6,128,422 with Facebook alone having more than half of the total number of internet users as subscribers (3,473,000) between 2006 and 2019.
In Cameroon, the most widely used social media platform is Facebook, closely followed by WhatsApp. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are also gaining steam in the digital media space in Cameroon though still a wide gap compared with the growing rate of Facebook and WhatsApp in Cameroon. Social media in Cameroon is increasingly being used for various reasons including work, entertainment, communication, business, education etc. According to GlobalStats, between November 2018 and November 2019, Facebook is the most used social media platform in Cameroon with 86.76% subscription, while Pinterest: (7.55%), Instagram (2.17%) Twitter (2.13%), YouTube (1. 33%) and LinkedIn (0.01%) have slower expansion rates.
Source: Globalstats 2019
WhatsApp and Snapchat, although not represented in the diagram above, have also come to stay and occupy a huge percentage of the Cameroon digital space in recent times. Thus, these platforms cannot be under looked in the Cameroon social media landscape.
Facebook is the most popularly used platform in Cameroon. Many people (both young and old, women and men) use it to communicate through messages, videos, pictures, drawings with their families, friends, colleagues and other loved ones. Facebook just like many other social media platforms is a two-sided coin that impacts on the population both positively and negatively. On a positive note, Facebook has been able to provide a platform for networking, for research, for business, for organisations and funders to connect as well as for distance learning. Going by statistics from NapoleonCat on Facebook stat in Cameroon as of December 2019, there were 3. 650. 000 Facebook users in Cameroon in December 2019, which accounted for 14.1% of its entire population. The majority of them were men – 58.1%. People aged 25 to 34 were the largest user group (1 390 000). The highest difference between men and women occurs within people aged 25 to 34, where men lead by 190 000.
On the other hand, Cameroon is a youthful country with over 65% of the total population made up of young people below 35 years, some of these youths have started to use Facebook for assaults, cyber-crimes and for increasing cultural divides through targeted messages geared towards attacking people or individuals based on their cultural origin, sexual orientation, language, religious belief, political affiliation, etc. In Cameroon today, Facebook has become a host of countless numbers of fake accounts that impersonate individuals and spread fake news and misinforms the population. In fact, within the current crisis situation in Cameroon, Facebook is widely implicated to misinform and spread fake news and propaganda, with a direct negative impact on the crisis.
Like Facebook, the use of WhatsApp in Cameroon has equally witnessed an increase over the years. A major point of convergence is in the degree of use of WhatsApp. Respondents randomly selected attested that WhatsApp is often used simultaneously with Facebook as they affirmed that once data is on, they switch between Facebook and WhatsApp, mostly through their mobile phones. This platform is one of the most important messaging applications used in Cameroon as it can also do voice calls, video calls, share messages, pictures and videos. According to AyukRenette is relatively cheap and fast to use especially with various internet options made available by internet providers in the country (CAMTEL, MTN, ORANGE and NEXTEL). The end to end encryption of the application made the platform more sought after. This platform eases work because it has group options where three or more people can work without physically meeting, it is free for adverts as it has a status section where people showcase their businesses and positive practices etc. Nevertheless, this platform acts as a distraction for some Cameroonians as they spend more time chatting rather than working. Youths in Cameroon also use WhatsApp to post nude pictures, thus exposing them as victims of hate or blackmail. WhatsApp being very secure has increased cyber criminality in Cameroon, as idle youths are more easily able to engage in illegal online business trading. In fact, WhatsApp in Cameroon today is one of the fastest platforms used to disseminate propaganda and hate-motivated messages, pictures or videos. Within the context of the Anglophone crisis, the so-called ghost Town has been sustained over the years, thanks to WhatsApp group messages that spread fake information like wildfire. The tone on WhatsApp depends on the user and their purpose, thus it is Educative for those posting their research on statuses and in groups, Informative for those bringing in good information, Business Oriented for those advertising their small and big businesses, Arrogant and Abusive for those settling personal scores, spreading derogatory, inflammatory and abusive messages.
Instagram is another platform Cameroonians use in their day to day activities. According to statistics compiled by NapoleonCat, Instagram users in Cameroon as of December 2019 stood at 387 800 users, which accounted for 1.5% of its entire population. The majority of these users were men – 57.8%. People aged 18 to 24 were the largest user group (169 000). The highest difference between men and women occurs within people aged 18 to 24, where men lead by 27 000.
The app on its own aims to engage global communication, networking and freedom to express views and thoughts. Instagram influencers, however, post pictures of their seemingly perfect lives, which other people try to copy and fake identities to an extent that causes conflict between individuals who might never have met before. The competition in this platform causes violence and theft in other to meet up to what they term as standard and classic living. The platform also has good aspects as people use it for businesses and brand adverts, share useful information etc. The platform however also has users who are arrogant, proud, misinformative, and deceitful.
Twitter is used in Cameroon but its usage is not as high as the above, this platform is more formal and has a straight to the point interface. Most government officials and celebrities, Institutions, NGOs, Entrepreneurs, government structures and other parastatals such as CAMAIRCO, SONARA, CAMWATER, MTN Cameroon, Orange Cameroon, Cameroon Tribune, etc, use this medium. Many youths don’t engage on twitter chats because it has few words and you need to be objective in order to make a point though a few people misuse it to insult others especially officials because they know they will see it. Twitter is generally used in Cameroon for campaigns and advocacies as well as a platform to share information like job opportunities and important updates on current socio-political and economic issues. Therefore, the tone of Twitter is more formal, educative, informative, opportunity based than provocative. Cameroonian youths find this platform boring compared to the others.
This platform is widely used in Cameroon because of its simplicity and visual nature. Cameroonians publish blog posts by leading off their text with a compelling image, and then post the image on Pinterest with a link through to their content. This platform is mostly used by motivational speakers, marketers, businessmen, health and wellness instructors, artists, humanitarian actors and organisations and it is also used by Cameroonians living abroad. For instance, Angu Walters is a Cameroonian Artist living in Bamenda and uses Pinterest to display his art for informative, educative and business purposes.Nji Philemon Ngang is another Cameroon motivational and health and wellness coach who heads a platform known as Imotivate (https://www.facebook.com/immotivate/) and uses Pinterest to share information on health and wellness and well as motivational quotes. Pinterest is a way to draw traffic to brand-building content that drives interest and engages both customers and prospects. This makes the tone of the interface more informative, business-oriented, convincing and persuasive.
YouTube is also a common platform Cameroonians use and influences many sectors like news, music or entertainment, motivation, gaming and adverts. Cameroonians mostly use this to view other people’s content and channels. It is only recently that we started having an increased number of Cameroonians as active YouTubers and YouTube content creators/producers. Most popular Cameroonian celebrities and institutions present on YouTube are Standley Enow (musician) with 56800 subscribers, 76 video uploads and 6.636.335 total views, Kamer Lyrics (entertainment and news) with 39.100 subscribers, 88 video uploads and 10 506 650 total views and CultureBeneOfficial (Entertainment channel) with 41.100 subscribers, 520 video uploads and 18 253 241. Other popular entertainment and communication companies on YouTube are MTN and Orange Cameroon.The tone here is educative, inspirational, informative and also sometimes misinformative because some people use this platform to share unhealthy videos and contents.
LinkedIn is not widely used in Cameroon because it is mainly for professional networking, a platform where professionals meet employers and vice versa, and also because most young people do not know of the importance of connecting with like-minded people on the platform like Facebook. People are supposed to be involved in order to become more professional in their domains and get inspirations which could help them change their communities but unfortunately, LinkedIn is among the social media platforms with the lowest traffic in Cameroon. The tone here is professional, informative, educative and challenging.
This platform is highly used in Cameroon especially by women and girls. It is also very widely used by Cameroonian celebrities who use it to attract a huge number of their fans to keep trending. Examples include Brenda Biya (on snapchat as anastasiesnaps), Standley Enow (on snapchat as stanleyenow), SyndyEmade (on snapchat as syndy.emade), Montess (on snapchat as montessofficial), Daphne Njie (on snapchat as daphnenjie1), nathaliekoah (on snapchat as nathalie.koah), Blanche Bailly (on snapchat as nerilan), etc. This sharing application, of short-lived photos and videos, is also very popular with Cameroonian 18-25-year-olds. This interface has negatively affected the Cameroonian population because of the competition and anxiety people see about others, after having filtered their pictures to be more appealing, viewers can feel intimidated, jealous and it causes criticism and exchange of insults because of the pictures posted. This platform was meant for positive posting and information sharing to ease communication and networking but has become a platform for competition and idleness. The tone here is provocative, fake, pretentious and also informative.
The use of social media in Cameroon is becoming uncontrollable added to the fact that space is crowded with social media illiterates who unprofessionally use the platforms. Some youths have become journalists and reporters thinking they are expressing their freedom of speech. Many young people in Cameroon spend much time on social media for unfortunately very negative reasons. Given that social media has proven to be a medium for misinformation and the spread of fake news and propaganda by various people for different purposes, and that the platforms have played a very significant role in escalating violence in the Far North, Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, there is a growing need to engage in numerous campaigns using these same platforms to change existing narratives. This is why more resources need to be made available to support existing organisations struggling to combat the unprofessional use of social media and the spread of hate speech in the digital space.
 Statistics from napoleoncat.com/stats
 Social media stats in Cameroon from November 2018- November 2019 in Percentage
Facebook users in Cameroon: December 2019, https://napoleoncat.com/stats/facebook-users-in-cameroon/2019/12
 The Median Newspaper http://themedianpaper-yde.blogspot.com/2016/10/fake-facebook-profiles-on-rise-in.html
A respondent and journalist working with the Cameroon Radio Television interviewed on December 15th 2019.
Interview with Mbah Drusilla, Communications and Advocacy Officer at Local Youth Corner Cameroon, December 16, 2019.
Ghost town which is also known as contry Sunday is a lockdown imposed by separatist in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon. Every Monday has been set aside as ghost town days and all economic operators, schools and other institutions, as well as people, are forced to stay out of the streets as a way of expressing grievances with the government of the Republic of Cameroon.
Parastatals or public corporations are social institutions created by the government to provide essential goods and services at very low or affordable rates or costs.
Twitter Statistics in Cameroon https://www.socialbakers.com/statistics/twitter/profiles/cameroon
Angu Walters on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/artcameroon/?invite_code=7484a7c3df8a472e870b9f55d579d6ab&sender=737816488861437444
Ngi Philemon Ngang on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/NjiPhilemonNgang/
YouTube Statistics for Cameroon, https://www.socialbakers.com/statistics/youtube/channels/cameroon