Usefulness and credibility of social networking platforms such as Facebook, Orkut and Twitter have often been questioned. While critics have played down the impact of social media saying it's only limited to few people, supporters believe social networking websites is rapidly evolving as a serious platform to express views as well spread the word.
Well, a new study conducted by a independent IRIS Knowledge Foundation and supported by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) says Facebook could have a huge influence on the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The study explains its observations through multiple factors.
First up, the study says, India never had such a huge base of young electorate. “Between 2004 and 2009, the voting population went up from 670 million to 720 million. The number is expected to increase to 800 million by the time the country goes to the polls, a greater number of voters than ever before will be 25 years or younger,” points out the study.
The recent extensive usages of social networking platforms to spread word and express dissatisfaction against the government also indicates a number of people are now using new platforms to stage protests. This was seen during Anna Hazare's Lokpal campaign as well as during the protests against Delhi gangrape.
“Citizen activism is higher than ever before and the young in India are certainly showing a fair amount of restlessness and unhappiness at the state of affairs. It is unlikely that the voice that the citizenry found would stay suppressed for long and it would be interesting to see if it finds expression through their vote at the hustings. It is significant to note that online media generally and social media in general have played a huge role in mobilizing people for protests”.
The study further goes on to say no contestant can afford to ignore the power of social media in the coming Lok Sabha polls. And we are likely to see the political parties increasing their budget for social media campaigns and activities. With growing urbanisation in the country, especially small towns showing fairly active social media usages, the political parties may make various efforts to tap these new channels. You can check out the list of constituencies where social media could influence results here.
Though the study only focusses on Facebook, it certainly lays out the changing trends in the country, especially in the metros and smaller towns.
With growing reach of electronic media, the political campaigns in recent years have shifted to TV and radios.
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Of late we have seen even politicians from all major political parties including the likes of Shashi Tharoor, Omar Abdullah, Lal Krishna Advani, Subramanian Swamy and Narendra Modi extensively using social media to connect to their followers/general masses.
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may be a controversial figure in the politics but he is certainly quite popular on the social media. The BJP leader can be seen actively tweeting about his programmes and government works.
Social media and politicians, courtesy TheHindu
The influence of the social media is quite evident in the contemporary social backdrops. As said before, the power of the social media cannot be overlooked, and we shouldn't be surprised to see more campaigns and activities happening online in the near future.
What do you think of the notion that social media could affect the 2014 Election results? Let us know your views in the comments section below: