IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS     THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS     ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN INDIAN GENERAL ELECTION 2019   


Importance of social media in the 2019 General Elections

Importance of social media in the 2019 General Elections

                 Since 1952, there have been many elections in India. Every election has its own significance and people elect their leaders based on multiple parameters. A lot of hard work goes on behind an electoral process. Political parties and their leaders try and stay ahead of the game in terms of the reach to various stakeholders including citizens who cast their votes. Winning an election is really a paradox. Many leaders do not know how many votes actually get converted to seats. There are various procedures followed in India and leaders try to keep the communication channels open to stakeholders. The mass media too is an important stakeholder in facilitating this process of free and fair elections. Big budgets are spent on elections through media channels for marketing political messages and viewpoints.

               In the early years, electoral exercises were still a big thing but the modes and channels of communication were different. Today, media platforms have proliferated. The various forms of mass media- Print, Television, Radio, Folk Media, Public Relations and of course, the all-powerful social media, has changed the dynamics of the communication process. Any medium used by leaders to communicate will have its own impact on receivers.

                 In the early fifties, print media and radio were very popular. Later, Television ruled the media landscape for years. Today, the web has changed the dynamics of the whole game. The media convergence between all platforms has opened up different avenues, with both citizens and politicians trying to stay ahead of the game. Elections too have had an impact with the advancements in digital technologies and the popularity of social media. This phenomenon is evident in India. Those who have stayed ahead by communicating effectively, have been able to see their full potential on social media.

The current situation of the 2019 elections-

                R. Chandrasekhar, the former president of NASSCOM and former Telecom Secretary had admitted that social media could very well influence voters in elections. This is a decisive factor for many leaders who want to see their electoral outcomes materialize! Two decades ago many political parties were relying on traditional modes of mass media but now this is no longer the case. Whether it is the aspect of social media, strategy or analytics, in all areas, technology is the key and those who leverage this medium have seen results, even in elections. Many experts opine that one can see a 2-3 percentage point in swing votes, wherein many constituencies don’t necessarily get impacted by traditional media. The internet penetration and reach in India is increasing every year. Many people even in most remote villages have access to smartphones and television sets.

            Social media is not a bad thing as many would say. It can be used effectively by anyone, even when one is strategizing for an election. The marketing plan and social media strategy would be effective with analytics if it is implemented well across all states. However, there is also a flipside of the social media phenomenon. Many messages that usually come out turn out to be fake news and propaganda. The citizen many a time, finds it difficult differentiating the unreal from the truth. But these issues are being tackled in India.

            The (IAMAI) Internet and Mobile Association of India and other social media platforms have submitted the ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics’ for the General elections in 2019. All political advertisements will be monitored and the code of ethics will ensure transparency for a free and fair electoral process. The Election Commission of India had also summoned country heads of various social media firms which included- WhatsApp, Google, TikTok, Facebook, Share Chat, Twitter to brief them on the ‘Model code of conduct’. Many companies have also developed a mechanism for notifications wherein the watchdog could detect on these platforms any potential violations of -Sec 126, of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Also, another point made was that in the case of any conflict between ‘Voluntary Code’ and the ‘Legal Framework’ which exists, the legal option would prevail.

 The Future-

            Nobody can truly predict the future, but one thing is for sure that technology will only advance with time. With Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, there could be changes in many processes not just in communications, but also in elections. This can have an impact on many citizens when they go about voting. India needs to take steps to check loopholes in these processes, and if one has the right legal framework in place, then things will definitely improve. The Election Commission has taken steps to ensure that nothing goes wrong but, in the years, to come, if new laws and processes are put in place then we could see elections being more transparent.

            Technology need not be perceived with fear, because as societies change people also change. It is important that with the current times, processes and laws also change. One thing is for sure, technology will only advance and as political parties and citizens gear up for every new election, the legal scrutiny must be enforced on all stakeholders. This would help in facilitating transparency for all elections in India.

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TAGS:  IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS    THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS    ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN INDIAN GENERAL ELECTION 2019 
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