Evaluation Of The Use Of Facebook In Political Mobilization In The Gubernatorial Elections In Imo State

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Evaluation Of The Use Of Facebook In Political Mobilization In The Gubernatorial Elections In Imo State


Abstract


As the internet has become ever-present, quicker, and ever more accessible to non-technical communities, social networking and mutual services have grown rapidly, enabling people to communicate and share interests in many more ways. Modern inclinations and advancement in modern technologies,” Facebook” seem to be eroding the glory of the mainstream media.

The tactics employed by electoral candidate in 2015 gubernatorial elections in Imo state has changed the rules of political communication and since then electoral campaigns have been more about social networking; using the existing and emerging social media platforms than the conventional approach which emphasized more of one-way communication with limited chances to generate feedbacks.

This project examined the crucial role that Facebook played as a tool for political communication and mobilization in Imo state during 2015 gubernatorial elections.

This work is carried out in five chapters.

Chapter one is the introductory part of the work, which comprises of the significance of the study, statement of problems, scope and limitation of the study and definitions of terms.

Chapter two reveal numerous authors view on the topic.

Chapter three describes the method researcher adopted in carrying out the study.

Chapter four talks on data presentation, analysis and discussion of the findings of the work.

Chapter five is the concluding part of the work which includes the summary, conclusion and recommendations.


Table Of Content


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents

Chapter One

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problems
  • 1.3 Objectives of the study
  • 1.4 Research questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.6 Scope of the study
  • 1.7 Limitations of the study
  • 1.8 Operational definitions of terms

Chapter Two

Review Of Related Literature

  • 2.1. Historical development of social media
  • 2.2 Concept of political mobilization
  • 2.3 Facebook and the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Imo State
  • 2.4 Social influence and political mobilization through Facebook
  • 2.5 Uses of social media in election participation
  • 2.6 Social media encourage citizen engagement with political actors and institutions
  • 2.7 Challenges impending Facebook usage in Imo state
  • 2.8 Other challenges of the use of Facebook for political mobilization
  • 2.9 Theoretical framework

Chapter Three

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Area of study
  • 3.3 Population of study
  • 3.4 Sampling and sampling techniques
  • 3.5 Sources of data collection
  • 3.6 Method of data collection
  • 3.7 Administration of the instrument
  • 3.8 Validity / Reliability of Measuring Instruments
  • 3.9 Methods of Data Analysis

Chapter Four

Data Analysis And Presentation

  • 4.1 Presentation of data
  • 4.2 Discussion of findings

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

  • 5.1 Summary of Findings
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • Reference
  • Appendix
  • Questionnaire

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

Civil and political participation is an important element of contemporary democracy. It is generally assumed that within a democratic political system, citizens should have sufficient opportunities to communicate their preferences toward political decision makers of equal importance, however in the mobilization aspect, citizens have to be mobilized and recruited in order to be able to participate with the emergence of social media “Facebook” which the various politicians, parties and organizations saw new possibilities for mobilizing citizens.

The Gubernatorial elections in Imo state witnessed a remarkable use of social media as a political communication tool in Imo state. The role of the social media “Facebook” in political mobilization and participation across the globe cannot be over emphasized. The 2015 Gubernatorial elections in Imo state offer a unique context and opportunity to evaluate the use of social media in elections, especially the usefulness and application of Facebook in the electoral environment.

Although it seems obvious that social media contributed in no small measure to the success of the 2015 Gubernatorial elections in Imo state, it is pertinent to understand specifically how particular stakeholders in 2015 Gubernatorial elections, like INEC, Politicians/political parties, the electorate, and CSOs, used the media during the elections. It was not only INEC that tapped the opportunities provided by soil media for greater and more efficient political communication. Politicians and political parties also utilized the social media largely to engage with voters and constituents. Many candidates that contested the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Imo state had Facebook and other social media accounts.

The several gubernatorial elections in Imo state witnessed a remarkable use of social media as a political communication tool in Imo state. Three major issues underline the tremendous use of social media tools during the elections.

Firstly, the use of social media in Imo state elections or “E-electioneering”. According to McNamara (2008), around the world, rapidly expanding access to internet, increased availability of internet ready smart phones and other communication device as well as the evolution of web-based new media-personal websites, social networking sites, blogs, newsletters have re-defined methods of political communication leading to a significant shift towards the use of social media in electoral process.

Previously, network television and newspapers dominated coverage of electioneering and were primary sites of elections related information. But today, the social media, particularly Facebook has become a major election information sharing platform globally. Because of its ease of use speed and reach, social media is revolutionizing the efficiency of election administration, coverage and reporting.

The second issues that underline the use of social media in Imo state Gubernatorial election is the tendency of some Imo politicians to tap into the opportunities offered by the social media for online campaigning.

The use of social media “Facebook” by politicians in mobilizing people for elections in recent times is gaining ground around the states. Facebook has become an increasingly important vehicle for political communication and mobilization.

Unlike traditional media (Newspaper and television) the social media allows its audiences to select and choose the extent of audiences and sources and its wealth of information are all thought to facilitate widespread political change.

The Facebook unique transmission capability has altered the flow of information throughout society and consequently has impacted the political behavior of the general public and it was on this background that the research was carried out.

Mostly, the entire political aspirant used social media tools to connect with voters and constituents. Facebook and twitter appears to be the most widely used social media platforms by the politicians.

Social media “Facebook” offered politicians and their parties the opportunity to broadcast messages and recruit a huge number of volunteers top support their campaign.


1.2 Statement Of Problem

The use of Facebook by politicians in mobilizing people for election is weakening the gate keeping capacity of the traditional media. Before the emergence of social media, the traditional media played a key role in deciding what is sufficiently important to be aired to the public. This gate keeper role of the traditional media enables it to set agenda for public discourse. The mass media force attention to certain issues.

They build up public images of political figures. They are constantly presenting objects suggesting what individuals in the mass should think about, know about and have feelings about. By presenting politicians with a platform to speak directly to their constituents and potential voters without the traditional media intermediary, Facebook has largely curtailed the agenda setting role of the traditional media.

The practice of political breaking news through Facebook rather than press release in the traditional media has gained currency in recent times, press secretariat are increasingly losing their control as gatekeepers and politicians now have more liberty to frame and prime issues they consider important to win the election.

In all, the use of social media limits the control of the traditional press secretaries over the overflow of information and also decreases the dependence on traditional media for up-to-date content on election facts.

Social media (Facebook) has emerged as the new influencer in social, economic and political setting. Research has shown that increasing use of Facebook for political leadership and television viewership in many countries and all this communication may not have basis to justify them. There were very tendencies for message transmitted through the social media (Facebook) not to quickly reach the offline electorates.

They create a gap “online” and “offline” electorates and enables the messages circulated through Facebook to rapidly and easily penetrate only to fraction of the social.

Violence is another problem inherent in the use of Facebook on mobilizing electorates. Politicians normally communicate false news through social media to victimize the opponents and cause social disorder before and after election.

This destabilizes the political and causes election riots in most elections in the state.

This work intends to tackle the following problem;

  1. There are many challenges accompanied the dependence of social media for election facts. This challenge has misled and affects people voting in Imo state.
  2. Since the inventions of social media, politicians have changed their campaign strategies which include using Facebook in politicking or mobilizing electorate. This weakens and affects the gate keeping capacity of the traditional media.
  3. This Facebook limits the control of traditional press secretaries over the flow of information land decrease the dependence on the traditional media for up-to-date content on election fact.
  4. 4There is a total dependency of the people on social media for news, which has no basic for readership and television viewership in Imo state.
  5. Facebook and other social media sites have really affected the voting pattern and behavioral pattern of the Imo electorate through these social network sites. Many voted against their wish as a result of false information gotten from these social networks.

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The main objectives of this work are to ascertain the use of Facebook by politicians to mobilize people for election. Other objectives include:

  1. To examine if the use of Facebook by politician in mobilizing people for election is weakening the gate keeping capacity of the traditional media.
  2. To examine the role of Facebook in political mobilization.
  3. To know if Facebook has affected the voting behavior of the Imo state electorate.
  4. To identify the opportunities and challenges of the use of Facebook by politicians for political mobilization.

1.4 Research Questions

On the course of carrying out this research work, the following research questions were developed:

  1. Does the use of Facebook by politicians in mobilizing people for election weaken the gatekeeper capacity of the traditional media?
  2. Does Facebook have effect on voting behavior of the Imo election?
  3. Do you think Facebook has a role to play in political mobilization of people?
  4. Are there any opportunities and challenges of the use of Facebook for political mobilization?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The findings of this project will be relevant to politicians and political parties in letting them know the importance and usefulness of Facebook and other social media in mobilizing electorates.

It is useful to the public on the place of Facebook and other social media in disseminating political news to the people.

Scholars and academicians who are carrying similar research will find the research work useful. Also other stakeholders like the regulatory bodies, government and INEC will find the result of the study interesting in checkmating the nature of information disseminate by politicians on Facebook.

It will uncover the problem or challenges of using Facebook in mobilizing people for elections and proffer solutions to challenges.


1.6 Scope Of Study

There are many social media tools through which politicians can use in passing information to people. These include; Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, Google etc. But study will be limited to the use of Facebook in particular by politicians in mobilizing people for election.

This is so due to the fact that all social media cannot be studied in whole due to finance and other constraints as explained below.


1.7 Limitation Of Study

1. Finance:

Economically, the study witnessed finance challenges as it is very difficult to browse for information and materials without enough fund at hand.

2. Time:

There is no enough time to carry out this study as the research time coincided with the time of lectures and other activities.

3. Materials:

Due to the inability of the management and public libraries to acquire enough books which are useful to the study. The study makes us of the available materials mostly from journals and websites.


1.8 Operational Definition Of Terms

Internet:

This can be defined as a collection of millions of computer network of varying the size of million users who share an interactive means for interacting with another to exchange digital data.

Computer:

This is an electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) and performing a sequence of logical operations in accordance with a predetermined by variable set of procedural instructions (programs) to produce a result in the form of information or signals.

Journalist:

A journalist is a person whose profession is to practice journalism. Also is a person involved in the operation of gathering and dissemination of information or signals through an appropriate medium.

Election:

An election is a formal making process by which population chooses an individual to hold public office. It is the act of choosing or selecting one or more from a greater number of persons, things, courses or rights.

Facebook:

This is defined as an online social networking website where people can create profiles, share information such as photos and quotes about themselves and respond or link to the information posted by others.

Social Network:

Any website designed to allow multiple users to publish content themselves. The information may be on any subject and may be for consumption by (potential) friends, users, mates, employers, employees etc. the sites typically allow users to create a “profile” describing themselves and list other or groups they are connected to in some ways.

Social Media:

Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

Mobilization:

Act of assembling and marketing both people and supplies ready for information.

Politician:

A person who is professionally involved in politics especially as a holder of an elected office.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Summary Of Findings

Based on the results generated above, the researcher summarizes her findings as shown below:

  1. Social networks (Facebook) play an important role in mobilizing electorates for election.
  2. The structural transformation in the news dissemination tends to works faster through social networks sites or the internet.
  3. Facebook is a good political tool in mobilizing people for election and using Facebook for mobilizing electorates is very effective and change voters mind towards a particular candidate.
  4. Apart from political campaigning, Facebook can be used by politicians for other purposes such as mobilizing people for election, political propaganda, creating awareness of their various achievement, election propaganda, blackmailing their opponents, making promises to electorates and campaigning. This indicates that Facebook are very vital to politicians.
  5. Facebook affects electorate voting decisions and politicians also use it for all the political information/news. This over scores the popularity of Facebook as new sources. This further confirms the dominance of the Facebook sites as news sources across geographical space.
  6. The reason given by respondents for their choice of social networks as a primary source of information include convenience and the fact that being connected to a social network through handy device such as smart phones and modems as top reasons.

5.2 Conclusion

It is clear that the use of Facebook is a phase that is fast catching on among politicians regardless of geographical location not minding the core values of news dissemination social networks have caught on with a speed that has not allowed for its alignment with values of news dissemination. Factors such as credibility, accuracy, news-worthiness and believability can sometimes be questions in the use of social networks.

Most people admit to using Facebook for both information purposes on election matters as well as entertainment purposes. They also seem to prefer Facebook to traditional media but still sometimes crosscheck news obtained from Facebook with news obtained from traditional media. This means the Facebook is more accepted, the traditional media is more trusted.

Even the use of social network has its drawbacks it also had a few advantages that cannot be ignored. For instance, it is the best way to spread information among people in different geographical locations. It allows for interactions between users and therefore an exchange of knowledge and ideas. It also allows a wider coverage of people to get a message or information. The research has showed that social networks (Facebook) and internet are effective means of news dissemination by politicians in mobilizing the electorate.

Facebook has impacted on political communication has provided a whole effective means for political mobilization. It has given those without access to the official media an outlet to mobile and air their views. Despite the challenges of access to their internet due to connectivity and skills to operate the media especially in developing countries, the internet will increasingly be a veritable vehicle for political mobilization in years to come.


5.3 Recommendations

Based on the conclusion draw, the researcher makes the following recommendations:

  1. The constraints as highlighted in the study which is a bottleneck to the use of Facebook in mobilizing electorate should be rectified.
  2. Electorate should be made to understand that all news available or posted online are not true and they should seek for the right news at the right time probably through backing online news with the traditional media news.
  3. Imolites need to help stabilize the political atmosphere and proffer strict penalty to politicians who paste fake election news.
  4. It is therefore necessary for proper codes of ethics be adopted by social network owners to ensure creditability and accuracy of information as well as for more believable news dissemination.
  5. Imolites should therefore always seek to cross check information obtained from Facebook with other available news sources before accepting or even passing the same information to vulnerable users.

Evaluation Of The Use Of Facebook In Political Mobilization In The Gubernatorial Elections In Imo State


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