During the 2010-11 political turmoil in Ivory Coast, Edith Brou and her band of online activists tested the power of the internet and collective action. Presidential challenger Alassane Ouattara was widely seen as having won the 2010 election and, after a stand-off, former president Laurent Gbagbo was arrested. He was extradited to the International Criminal Court, the first head of state in the court’s custody. Brou, one of 10 founders of the nonprofit Akendewa (clever spider) used the internet to stay connected with holed-up citizens. They helped to solve problems arising from the conflict, such as how to find water and even what to do with a dead body. They used Twitter and Facebook, but with the help of a call centre run by friends in Ghana. "It was very intense. Sometimes I received some threats," says Brou, 34, picking her words carefully in a thick French accent. She is now a well-known social media influencer in Ivory Coast, neighbouring countries and the Francophone diaspor...

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