Port Harcourt Residents Perception Of The Social Media Report 2019 Elections Result
Social media is recognized as a tool of mass education whether constructive or destructive. Its use has been greatly appreciated on different platforms. This study on the perception of Port Harcourt Residents of the Social Media Report on the 2019 elections. The study reviewed related literatures bordering on social media and recognized several scholars. The survey method was adopted and the instrument of questionnaire used. The study found out that the residents of port Harcourt perceived the 2019 Presidential election result was rigged as judging from the results available at several social media handles.
1.1 Background of the Study
No one doubts that the primary function of social media —Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Youtube, and so on— is to connect people through interactive computer-mediated platforms so they can share information. In the process, social networks are created, some temporarily and others permanently, often for specific purposes. But we also know that the use to which technology is put often depends on the users and the purpose. One of the major uses of social media in recent years is the mediation of the political process and discourse. All over the world, social media provides platforms for politicians to disseminate information in their bid to recruit supporters and donors. The advantage of social media for them lies in the opportunity of direct communication with supporters, by sidetracking regulated mainstream media such as radio, television, newspapers, and magazines as well as press conferences. In the process, issues raised in mainstream media and on political campaigns are subjected to discussion and recast or repackaged in new light on social media. Supporters and opponents of particular issues and arguments are then given the opportunity on various social media platforms to participate in unregulated debate from their own private space. As a result, multiple voices are heard that otherwise would have been silent.
The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama proved the benefits of using social media for political campaigns. Nearly every aspect of that campaign used social media to advance its message to supporters including advertising, advance work, organizing in all 50 states, and fundraising. Facebook, YouTube and especially Twitter were used to let Obama supporters know how he felt about important issues. These social network sites have become significant virtual communities in his campaign, being used frequently and giving legitimacy to their influence in the political arena. From the victory of barrack Obama usage of social media in India increase to large extends, and first time social media was used in movement called India against corruption in year2011. Anticorruption movement organizers and supporters used social media to quickly broadcast information and organize protests. Indians also used social media to show support for India against Corruption (IAC). But the main intention of using social media in this movement is to attract and attach people to this movement, to create awareness among people at low cost. At the end of 2018, it was estimated that Nigeria had more than 92.3 million internet users, which is higher than the number of television users in the country estimated at 6.6 million. Of this, 16 million are Facebook users and Twitter has an estimated 1.8 million monthly users. A study done by PewResearch says nearly 45% of Indian web users connect on social media to discuss politics. With elections around the corner, there is a lot of chatter and speculation about the impact of social networks on the outcome, specifically with the way it has fueled some recent movements. Nigerian parties are becoming increasingly aware of the value of Internet platforms to attract tech-savvy voters. So political parties in urban areas are increasingly becoming tech-savvy, realizing this is the only way to reach out to the articulate young as this could change the democratic political dialogue. While political parties still rely on the traditional and old fashioned ways of campaigning such as posters, rallies, cardboard cutouts as well as house-to-house canvassing to win voters, many politicians realize that social media is set to influence the upcoming vote.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The 2019 elections must have come and gone but the experience still remain fresh with us. The All Progressive congress (APC) candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari re-contested for the presidential seat and was fiercely opposed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Both were popular in the contest as the both had millions of followers and supporters. However, the candidate of the APC was declared winner at the end of the day. Looking at the elections, many factors played out during the elections, one of such is the role played by the social media. The rivers state governorship election was conducted and the INEC declared it inconclusively, the social media also played a significant role. The fact here is that the electorates who are mostly internet users are glued to the social media platforms for information. Through the social media platforms news are disseminated, whether fake or real. In this study our focus is to appraise the perception of Port Harcourt residents of the 2019 election result as conveyed by the social media.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study seeks to achieve the following objectives:
- To determine the extent social media influenced voters’ choice of political candidates during the 2019 presidential election
- To determine if the popularity of presidential candidates during the 2019 presidential election influenced by their social media usage.
- To determine the extent social media influence voting pattern of electorate during the 2019 presidential election.
1.4 Significance of the Study
It is wise to always assess the aftermath of any event. This is because it will help expose the gaps that were encountered during the process that was not properly addressed. Port Harcourt residents are not new to social media as a good number of them make up the Nigeria internet users’ statistics. This study will help the social media analyst to understand the perception of Port Harcourt residents concerning the 2019 elections. It will prove to the parties that the electorates are fully aware of what is happening in the polity. Furthermore, the study will help for comparison purposes as the residents of other cities can compare their perception to the port Harcourt residents in order to reach a statistically significant conclusion.
1.5 Research Questions
- To what extent did social media influence voters’ choice of political candidates during the 2019 presidential election
- Was the popularity of presidential candidates during the 2019 presidential election influenced by their social media usage?
- To what extent did social media influence voting pattern of electorate during the 2019 presidential election.
1.6 Research Hypotheses
Ho 1: Voter’s choice of political candidates in the 2019 presidential election was not influenced by political communication on social media.
Ho 2: The popularity of Presidential aspirants in the 2019 general election has no significant relationship with their social media use during the election.
Ho 3: Electorate voting pattern during the 2019 elections was not influenced by their exposure to political messages on social media.
1.7 Scope and Limitation
The study is widened to accommodate several literatures on social media and political communication. We examined the role of social media in the 2019 elections as well as the negativity of abusing social media during the election. However, the study is limited to the opinions of the residents of Port Harcourt. Hence, further studies can be further conducted to examine other cities in order to get a national perception.
1.8 Organization of the Study
The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendation
5.1 Summary of Findings
Based on the analysis of the results, the following are the findings:
- Most of the respondents (53.4%) are within the age bracket of 18 to 30 years of age.
- Majority of the respondents (83.3%) are females and they very often use the social media to get political information during the 2019 presidential election.
- Face book is the most utilized social media tool by the presidential candidates during the elections.
- The first and third hypothesis were significant, thus the null hypotheses were rejected.
- The second hypothesis was not significant, therefore the null hypothesis was accepted, while the alternative was rejected.
5.2 Implications of Findings
The findings of this study attest to the fact that majority of people who use social media to get political information are predominantly youths. The implication of this is that, more youths are now being mobilized to participate in the political process through the social media where their opinions and voices can be heard.
Voter’s choice of political candidates during electioneering campaigns was to a greater extent influenced by politician’s use of social media. However, respondents also affirmed that other factors such as political experience of a candidate, integrity, past records, achievements, and political affiliation (political party) were among the factors that influenced their voting pattern. The implication of this import is that apart from the social media, other intervening variables plays a greater role in the voting patterns of electorate during the elections. This reveals that voting pattern in Nigeria is influence by these factors.
Based on the findings of the study, Facebook ranked highest among the several social media platforms available to the electorate for political engagement during election campaigns. This, therefore, suggests that, for Nigerian politicians to remain relevant in contemporary politics, they have to utilize the social media so as to woo their supporters who are mostly young people. With the emergence of social media, traditional means of political campaigns is gradually changing to modern means of communication. The implication of this is that politicians must acquaint themselves with this new paradigm shift if they must mobilize the youths in future elections.
5.3 Conclusion and Recommendation
From the analysis and interpretation, it is clear that social media play a significant impact on voting behavior of young voters. Political parties will be successful in influencing the people of the metros city and semi urban cities. Social media is replacing the traditional media but in remote areas traditional media still has significant impact in creating awareness among people. Social media provides platform to the people to get connected to parties they favor. It became an important marketing tool to reach to target audience in minimum time and within less cost.
Online banners adds and other form of advertising has a significant impact on young voter specially students which not only influence them but also help in shaping their behavior. There is significant relationship with aged of people. People use social media platform to keep track of political development, technology play a vital role in giving first-hand information that to in less time. It has been found that the conversation on forum influence the female more than the male which indirectly affect their decision to vote. People follow the political candidate on twitter and Facebook and also actively engage in political discussion by expressing their views and opinion. It is found that, the party which is most digitally interactive on social media people are more likely to favor that party and vote for that party. It is also found that those people who are highly active on social media their decision of voting will be affected because of the content they read about the particular politician. Social media not only pull the people by creating awareness among the people but it also play a supportive role of pushing the people to vote, it is not possible for social media alone to push the people but with help of news media and print media this task can be achieved. It is found that Youtube videos are also the important source of information for people and influence their decision to vote and there is relationship with gender. Online polls are some of the pushing strategies, it is found that there is combined effect of “aged” and “member of political party “on polls which influence their decision to vote.
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