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the rise of social media

General Election 2018: Internet Polls?

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  • Post category:Pakistan / Politics
  • Post last modified:07/07/2018
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Since General Elections 2018 are round the corner, political parties are spending their precious time in wooing people via holding campaigns throughout the state.

In this technological driven world, where on one hand, political parties, through spending millions on social media campaigns, are targeting young constituents as they tend to flock online to take up media, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan, the digital warrior who kick-started the country’s foremost yet limited to mass level internet campaign back in 2013, on the other hand, believes in reaching out to his followers personally.

The party has turned its focus towards digital apps to reach out to electors this time. Also, they are soon to establish a manoeuvre that would enable users to interact tête-à-tête with Khan.

The forthcoming initiative would be a two-way track where users can send messages harboring their concerns to Khan. On a daily basis, some five to six questions will be shortlisted that would be addressed by Khan via calling the concern persons.

Another development to PTI’s digital campaign is the Insafian App. With this, the applicants can access their registered voters through GPS and they keep them aware of the political meetups and reforms in diverse vicinities.

When it comes to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), its election cell in Bilawal House Karachi has been using more technological gizmos to reach out to the potential voters in such a crucial epoch when variations are the need of effectual communication.

As per the estimates, PPP has initiated a database of more than 2.5 million members while running around 190 WhatsApp groups so as to keep in touch with adherents. Whilst, at the same time, juvenile supporters keep on posting apropos party’s manifesto and what is trending online.

Contrary to this, pundits at the helm of affairs are of the view that such social media campaigns are all about disseminating the linking surveys in favor of the party, uploading campaign-related snaps, videos and activities, while panning opponents and conducts of the later governments.

The digital penetration is infused in our lives so intensely that the politics seem partial sans it. In fact, online presence and interaction with the public have become the foremost step for leaders to be taken to get the votes.

Considering the need of online campaigns, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), while ramping up its activities, has also soared its digital panel up to 300 registered volunteers with over 120 WhatsApp groups running recently.

Conclusively, it is not wrong to reckon the forthcoming elections as internet polls, where political parties lock horns to dominate and manipulate the constituents (particularly youngsters) via digital platforms. In point of fact, rural voters with better and fast 3G/4G services have been lured via Facebook and urban voters through Twitter.

 Not to mention that as to seek voters’ attention, parties such as PMLN started tweeting in regional languages i.e. Urdu, Pushto, Seraiki, Punjabi, Sindhi and Brahui whereas PTI’s Khan tweets in Urdu.

Considering the fact that social media has become a significant aspect in political campaigns and the way people mulling over the issues, readers may recall the role social media played in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections. The democratic party of Obama used Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as to run election campaigns, resulting in the landslide victory of Barack Obama. Thereby, the one with fierce online campaigns would remain triumphant in General Elections 2018!

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P.S. In 2013, the University of Georgia had conducted a study titled “Birds of a Feather Tweet Together: Integrating Network and Content Analyses to Examine Cross-Ideology Exposure on Twitter,” which was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. The research assessed the level to which political interactions on Twitter traverse ideological lines. Their ramification revealed, “On Twitter, political talk is highly partisan, where users’ clusters are characterized by homogeneous views and are linked to the information source. These dynamics likely reinforce in-group and out-group affiliations, as literally, users form separate political groups on Twitter. The more the tweets in a cluster reflected a political perspective, the more ideologically one-sided its content tended to be. Politically active voices, particularly younger voters, who use the Internet to express their opinions, are moving away from neutral news sites in favor of those that match their own political views.” (Aiman Inam)

Aiman Inam

Aiman Inam is a Media Sciences graduate from Karachi and reports on health, environment, human rights and cuisine etc.