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Key findings
  • Television is the most popular source of news in Morocco, used at least “a few times a week” by 92% of citizens.
  • More than three-fourths (78%) of Moroccans say the media should “constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption.”
  • But fewer than half (45%) insist on media freedom, while 55% endorse the government’s right to prevent the publication of things it disapproves of.
  • Almost six in 10 Moroccans (58%) say the country’s media is “somewhat free” or “completely free” to report and comment on the news without government interference.
  • Moroccans think social media users (84%) and the news media (67%) are the most likely suspects when it comes to knowingly sharing false information.
  • Among Moroccans who have heard of social media, majorities say it makes people more informed about current events (96%) and helps them have more impact on political processes (64%), but also makes them more likely to believe false news (85%).
  • A majority (57%) of Moroccans say unrestricted access to the Internet and social media should be protected.

Morocco’s 2011 Constitution states that “freedom of the press is guaranteed and may not be limited by any form of prior censorship. To the extent expressly provided for by law, everyone has the right to free expression and dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions” (consitituteproject.org, 2021).

In recent years, the government has introduced legal reforms refining the Constitution’s provisions, including a press code that recognizes online media, a law providing for public access to information, and an amendment enhancing the ability of the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA) to promote a diverse and open media market (ERIM, 2019; OECD, 2019). Access to the Internet and social media gets a boost from the government’s New Development Model, which promotes the development of digital platforms as a lever for rapid transformation (CSMD, 2021).

While welcoming these advances, critics say they don’t go far enough and have not shielded media outlets and journalists/bloggers from persecution (ERIM, 2019). The 2021 World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders, 2021) ranks Morocco’s media among the least free in the world (136th out of 180 countries). Similarly, Freedom House (2021) rates Morocco only “partly free” in terms of Internet freedom.

The latest Afrobarometer survey offers citizens’ perspectives on Morocco’s media scene. While television is the most popular news source, seven out of 10 Moroccans also regularly obtain news via social media and the Internet. Views on media freedom are mixed: Most respondents support the media’s watchdog role over government, but majorities also endorse the government’s right to limit the dissemination of false news, hate speech, and information that criticizes the prime minister or that the government disapproves of.

While Moroccans see both positive and negative aspects of social media, they don’t want the government to regulate access to social media and the Internet.

Mhammed Abderebbi

Mhammed is the national investigator for Morocco