Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

The Internet and Emergence of Yahooboys Sub-Culture in Nigeria

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

The Internet and Emergence of Yahooboys Sub-Culture in Nigeria

Article excerpt


Although the computer technology looms as a remarkable development in human history, there are conspicuous platforms to affirm that it is also a potentially subversive technology. The technology has brought striking changes to (African) cultures, our patterns of socialization, and our social institutions. Its effects are however particularly noteworthy in regard to telecommuting and the Internet.

In Nigeria, youths, especially undergraduates and the unemployed have embraced the ICT inventions e.g. mobile telephony, global telecasts etc. such that the Internet medium now takes larger part of their days when compared to their other daily activities. However, the varieties of application offered by the Net such as, electronic mailing, 'chat' systems and Internet messaging (IM), often serve as veritable grounds for carrying out nefarious 'webonomics' and other fraudulent activities by the youths. This has significantly given birth to the emergence of yahooboys sub-culture among the Nigerian youths, particularly in urban centers. Unlike the traditional criminal groups, both sexes are functionally involved in yahooboyism in Nigeria with varying specialized functions.

The culture of fraud and corruption prevalent within larger Nigerian society has facilitated the institutionalization of such a youthful version, as a subset. But such a level of 'modernization of criminality' among the Nigerian youths has been solely operationalized by the intrinsically insecure Internet system - a space in which 'nobody knows you are a dog'. This study investigates the significance of the Internet technology to the emergence of yahooboys (cybercrime) sub-culture among Nigerian youths. Through the Net, it has been observed that the yahooboys do engage in online fraud. For instance, selling of fictitious goods/services, and buying what they will not pay for, or paying in no real value, money laundering, hacking and credit card scam, pornography and unconventional sexuality are all objectionable engagements of the yahooboys.

The anonymity and privacy that the Internet provides to potential users has excessively enhanced the degree of fluidity and structural complexity of the yahooboys' operations in Nigeria. Today, they get access to the Internet without exiting the home. Embezzlements, electronic frauds, fictitious sales of properties and cars are all being carried out without leaving a trace (Reddick & King, 2000). Also, gender switching - a new sense of self that is "decentered and multiple" - has emerged among the yahooboys in Nigeria. This is essentially for the purpose of facilitating their nefarious activities. At a single point in time, an individual could claim to be a "beautiful lady" or a "big man" or a "celebrity", all depending on his/her immediate needs.

Ironically, the criminal applications of the Internet facility by the yahooboys in Nigeria can be directly linked to the failure of a political leadership (Adeniran, 2006). It is a common summation that out-of-school students (due to distortions in school calendar) and unemployed youths constitute a considerable percentage of the yahooboys in Nigeria. Indeed, they do ignorantly, but proudly claim that their involvement in cybercrime is a way of getting back at such unjust social system, in a non-violent way.

Conceptual definitions

Cybercrime is broadly used to describe criminal activity in which computers or networks are a tool, a target or a place of criminal activity. A new type of white-collar crime facilitated by technological advances i.e. a crime actualized through the platform of the Internet (Karofi & Mwanza, 2006).

Telecommuting means working from homes rather than in an outside office; utilizing the Internet platform.

Webonomics refers to buying and selling through the Internet platform. It cuts off intermediaries, and encourages anonymous trading.

Yahooboyism is a coinage by the author to represent the activity of online youth fraudsters in Nigeria. …

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