Social Media And The 2015 General Election
1.1 Background of the Study
Political analysts, researchers and communication experts have established that, for the first time in the history of politics in Nigeria; media were used to the fullest especially with proliferation and growth of new media otherwise known as social media.
Social media was a major platform for political mobilization, education, debate and opinions generation on political matter which gave Nigerian home and Diaspora an opportunity to play their part and share their views on different issues especially as it occurs to them rather than objectively.
The tone, theme, and language used on citizen media reflected biases, hate statement, regionalism, tribalism, ethnicity, zonal, religion difference, political difference and others.
According to Greg, S. (2007:1) writes that, the art of politicking has always relied upon the promotion of one candidate or point of view over another. The only thing that has changed is the method and techniques made available to political communicators.
In the early days of political communication and advertising; politicians, supporters, political parties, INEC, civil social society and other stakeholders relied upon the use of handbills, word of mouth, billboard, newspaper and later to radio, television. Also, as technology evolved the channels available to political stakeholder expanded and interactive in nature with the proliferation of new media (social media/blogs).
The twentieth century marked the first time in political communication history in Nigeria that political communicators had the means to reach audiences on a mass scale. Politics was no longer local at least in its reach and ability to communicate with the electorates while electorate also contributes, to political debates, comments etc meaning that electorates were not a passive member of political debate, mobilization like they used to be before, but rather they were active member at that time.
In the just concluded 2015 general election, lots of media were used at that time, both the traditional mass media represented by the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, etc and new media represented by the facebook, twitter, youtube, instagram and other forum/blog/websites such as naij, linda ikeji blog, afriwatch, eyenigeria, nairaland, naijamouthed among others. Olayinka, (2015). But the most visible competition lies in the two major political parties i.e PDP and APC and all media houses, social media platform were consciously and unconsciously divided into two in mobilizing citizen for political participation.
Political participation means the involvement of the citizenry in the process of governing their state affairs. In other words, political participation means the proposed or conscious act of involvement of the citizens to influence the pattern, structure and composition of the government of the state.
It also involves the citizenry participation in the formulation and execution of laws, policies and regulations for their governance, and their choice making for decision-making representative or leader in their society. Political participation involves all the political activities of citizens, either as individual or groups geared towards or designed to influence the political process. It is the citizen’s involvement, actually to influence directly or indirectly the ways, directions and methods of governance or more specifically, the output or outcome (results) of political process. It is a political activity which is directed at selecting rulers in influencing the decision of government and the way government governs. Chudi-Oji C. (2013)
Facebook.com which started as a local social network made for the students of Harvard. It was developed by a sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook was actually made by making Harvard’s data base containing identification images of students. The initial idea was actually to compare the faces of students with images of animals, for entertainment purposes. However, due to the potentially damaging contents of the site, the creators decided to put it down before it caught the attention of school authorities but today it is a tool and platform for political debate, mobilization and education that was extensively used during the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
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