The increasing adoption of social media across Africa has raised hopes that they represent a new locus of youth political agency. However, as social media has become more ubiquitous, so has its control by African regimes. How do these controls affect young people’s use of social media for information? This article approaches online controls based on how overt – that is, visible and directly experienced by citizens – they are. It shows that overt forms of controls, such as social media shutdowns, are associated with a higher informational use of social media. Surprisingly, the association is stronger for older citizens. The article makes two important contributions. First, it points to the need for research to develop a better understanding of citizens’ perception of online controls. Second, its findings show that theories of youth citizenship should include the comparative group – older citizens.
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