Advantageous comparison: using Twitter responses to understand similarities between cybercriminals (“Yahoo Boys”) and politicians (“Yahoo men”)

Suleman Lazarus*, Mark Button, Afe Adogame

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article is about the manifestations of similarities between two seemingly distinct groups of Nigerians: cybercriminals and politicians. Which linguistic strategies do Twitter users use to express their opinions on cybercriminals and politicians? The study undertakes a qualitative analysis of ‘engaged’ tweets of an elite law enforcement agency in West Africa. We analyzed and coded over 100,000 ‘engaged’ tweets based on a component of mechanisms of moral disengagement (i.e., advantageous comparison), a linguistic device. The results reveal how respondents defend the actions of online fraudsters (“the deviant group”) by strategically comparing them to the wrongful acts of corrupt politicians (“the respectable group”). Similarly, the results show how respondents positioned this linguistic strategy to compare “the powerless group” (online fraudsters) and “the powerful group” (politicians) in society. Indeed, tweet responses suggest that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) generally looks downwards for culprits (i.e., online fraudsters) while ignoring fraudulent politicians. We conclude that the process by which some actions are interpreted as a crime compared to others is a moral enterprise.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11142
Number of pages11
JournalHeliyon
Volume8
Issue number11
Early online date29 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Online fraud
  • Public opinion
  • Corruption
  • Cybercrime
  • Moral disengagement mechanism
  • Rationalization
  • West Africa
  • Tweets
  • Nigeria
  • Romance scam
  • Business email compromise
  • 419 fraud
  • Sociology of deviance
  • Cyber criminology

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