Social media, youth (im)mobilities, and the risks of connectivity in urban Somaliland

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Young people in cities in the Horn of Africa engage with diasporic mobility through social media on a daily basis. Apparent opportunities on these platforms both reflect and shape ideas about life in the diaspora, potential migration, and social mobility. These connections also bring risks of scamming, extortion and misinformation that contribute to the involuntary immobility of those who wish to move for economic or educational opportunities. Drawing from ‘screen-shot elicitation’ group interviews with young men in Hargeisa (Somaliland) and digital ethnographic investigation of social media content gathered before, during and after these sessions, this article argues that transnational flows of mobility-related information need to be studied from the perspective of people within contexts commonly understood as ‘sources’ of south-north migration, but beyond policy-orientated questions about the impact of ICTs on rates of migration. Emphasising the highly ambivalent role played by social media in shaping aspirations and experiences of youth (im)mobility, this approach brings into view a wider range of socially significant online practices. These include the transnational assemblage of elaborate digital scamming techniques, as well as multiple other types of mobility-focused user-generated content that circulate in transnational Somali social (media) networks.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Apr 2023


  • Social Media
  • migration
  • ICTs
  • Cybercrime
  • Somaliland
  • Somalia
  • Youth


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