Session Notes: Use of citizen media in elections

Notes from discussion group on Elections taken by Eremipagamo Amabebe, May 6, 2010

Filip of GV Macedonia:

Elections last year in Macedonia, both presidential and local. Tried to measure support for candidates on various social media platforms, and discovered it was possible to predict the outcome of elections base on percentages of support on facebook and other platforms. He would be interested to know if this experience has been replicated in other countries. He sees social media platforms a excellent tool for gaging political popularity, as often traditional media sources skew perceptions, focusing on only a few popular candidates.

Moderator asks audience to share experiences on how social media has been used to highlight irregularities and fraud around elections. E.g. how phones have been used to conduct poles and to monitor election results.

Nat from Liberia

Social media is overlooked by a lot of people; in his country politicians dominate access to mainstream media, but don't realize that people are blogging about elections. The public too often doesn't realize the power of social media, blogs, etc, during elections and often only look to mainstream media for coverage. Politicians use “money power” to dominate mainstream media, he would like to see that bloggers are trained and prepared for upcoming elections, and are ready to provide an alternative perspectives on election coverage.

Julián Ortega Martínez from Colombia

Social networks, particularly facebook and twitter, were used to mobilize support for underdog politicians. Subjects such as ethics and education, have been debated by these political hopefuls rather than typical issues such as violence, FARC, etc. The mainstream candidates have had to rethink their campaign, to take into account the rapid success of these underdogs mobilizing social networks.

Moderator from Sri Lanka

Social media not yet used to prevent or control violence in Sri Lankan elections, but mainly to report. If fraud or violence takes place, citizens have a right to know if election has been compromised. During recent elections, citizens reported on mistakes about which finger was inked for voting, resulting in wider publicity of changes. Google maps a great tool for marking incidents of election violence.

Audience member from Brazil

Shares about efforts to coordinate different social networking platforms. Violence not a problem in Brazil, but would like to see more attempts to educate people into voting more critically.

Simon of GV Armenia

Discusses election violence in Armenia. In this case, blogs supplemented mainstream media reports during elections.


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