ROLE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ON political CAMPAIGNS IN NIGERIA
ROLE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ON POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS IN NIGERIA
The study investigates the role of social networking platforms in political campaigns in Nigeria. It focuses on how politicians use social media to encourage young people to participate in civic and political activities.
Data were collected using a well-structured questionnaire and the basic percentage approach, with Pearson correlation analysis used.
Finally, the study emphasises the importance of politicians completely embracing social networking sites in Nigeria as a means of crafting excellent public policy and improving governance accountability in order to create a “stronger” democracy.
1.0 Background of the Study
The globe is shifting away from traditional forms of political advertising and campaigning in electronic media, such as television and radio, and towards a more global and far-reaching one, the internet and, notably, social networking sites.
Social networking sites, as a sub-medium of the internet, have become a veritable breeding ground for political groups and actors seeking to capitalise on the limitless benefits of the information communication technology miracle, which many consider as a revolutionary technology.
According to Harry Rheingold (1993), he argued that the widespread use and potential derived from the use of this revolutionising technology in political campaigns has brought about speed promised greater levels of interactivity and connectivity,
the absence of hierarchies or bureaucracies, and the possibilities offered by an unfiltered and unmediated source of communication have all contributed greatly by its use by politicians and political groups in their politics.
As seen, political campaigns try to influence the process and outcomes of governance. It is an organised communication effort in which one or more agencies (whether parties, candidates, government institutions, or special interest groups) strive to influence the result of political decision-making processes by changing public opinion.
Political actors campaign in the hopes that the public or relevant portions of the public would support their political causes (David M. Farrell and Rudiger Schmitte-Beck, 2002).
In many recent political campaigns, the usage of social networking sites has resulted in greater media exposure, money, involvement, mobilisation, and passion. Network sites have now shown to be unrivalled in their ability to gather and deliver a targeted political message, boosting the stakes for strategy and active social media engagement.
However, the number of politically active citizens, both online and offline, is growing worldwide as a result of the internet's new communications role. In the 2006 Belgian election, the Catchphrase ‘Think' was spread via Myspace friendship networks to promote debates and consideration about voting preferences,
as well as to persuade voters to reconsider voting for the appropriate party (Quintelier and Vissers, 2008). In 2007, it was projected that 40% of all social networking users in the United States used Myspace and Facebook to get political material, while 20% utilised these sites to learn about their friends' political preferences (Zhang et al, 2010).
Barack Obama successfully communicated and mobilised people through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook, among other platforms. He also has a $2 million custom campaigning and social networking website,
mybarackobama.com (Walmsley 2005, Crow 2008, Talbot 2008). At the end of his campaign, Obama had 2.4 million Facebook friends, while McCain had 624,000 (Zhang et al., 2000).
The Iranian government had also embraced the internet to convey a pro-government message and provide online debate forums (Rahimi, 2003). During the post-2009 election protests, Twitter recorded 220,000 tweets on Iran.
According to Rahimi (2003), the threat posed by the use of the internet to destabilise authoritarian rule in Iran is that politically active groups in Iranian politics may adopt social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, Twitter, and Machups,
which were used in the 2006 Kenyan election to mobilise information and raise money in a limited time. It was utilised as a tool to participate in the political process in response to the government's gag order on the mainstream media (Makinen and Kuira 2008).
Perspectives and commentary on Kenya's post-2006 election crisis were seen on online networking sites as a way to criticise the media and government, and it was discovered that views and discussions on social networking sites were much more diverse than those seen in mainstream media (Makinen and Kuira, 2008).
However, in Nigeria, new kinds of communication technology and social networking are fast changing the country's political landscape. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, Nigeria has one of Africa's youngest populations, with an average age of 19. In 2008, just 49% of Nigeria's population was under the age of 18, and it is clear that young Nigerians are also technologically sophisticated.
This statistic sends a powerful message to political groups and actors about the power and endless benefits of new kinds of communication technology and social networking sites. In taking use of the numerous benefits provided by the use of social networking sites.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced his decision to run for president on Facebook. Following suites were Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, delta state Governor Emmanuel Uduagan, and many others who built campaign presences on social networking sites.
In fact, in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan gained almost 144,000 Facebook admirers in just a few weeks. President Goodluck Jonathan's previous statements have received between 1000 and 2000 comments (Goodluck Jonathan 2010:344).
Considering the enormous benefits provided by these new kinds of communication technology in Nigeria, the problems associated with using social networking sites in political campaigns are worrying.
One of the challenges is the restricted number of people who have access to them. According to the International Telecommunications Union's projections for Nigeria at the end of 2010, market penetration for mobile phones and the internet was 53% and 24% respectively.
Another difficulty that has arisen is that each Tom, Dick, and Harry is either a commentator, analyst, or reporter. This poses ethical concerns, as well as questions of libel and reliability.
People might use it to defame others, settle political scores, and spread outright lies. professional journalists may be aware of the danger of libel and face legal action, while citizen journalists are not.
1.1Statement of the Problem
In the past, political campaigns using traditional forms of electronic media, also known as mainstream media (i.e. radio, television, etc.), have been centred on adults, with problems such as one-way communication, high funding costs, low levels of participation, mobilisation, and interaction, and, more importantly, the government's increased continued ownership of this mainstream media.
However, the introduction of social networks in political campaigns tries to overcome this issue by implementing a two-way communication pattern and including youth through the gap they create online, making them more helpful in the political campaigning process.
As a result, the youth have become the ‘engine room' or pivot upon which modern campaign strategies are built. Additionally, due to the openness of the internet via social networking sites, the unregulated media (i.e. the social network) has become a challenge to policymakers because it allows every Tom, Dick, and Harry to become a commentator, analyst, or reporter.
This presents a problem to public policymakers, who become trapped in the web of which policies to devise and implement against those to dismiss.
1.2 Significance of the Study
The primary goal of this research is to determine the impact of social networking sites on political campaigns. As technical changes contribute to a'stronger democracy'. Another key purpose of social networking in political campaigns is to contribute to the body of knowledge and educate the general public about the usefulness of social networking sites in political campaigns in Nigeria. Furthermore, it allows users of social networking sites to fully participate in political discussions.
1.3 Research Objectives
It is important to highlight that this investigation can yield a wide range of aims. However, the most important goal is to investigate the impact of social networking sites on political campaigns in Nigeria. Other objectives of this investigation are as follows:
To investigate how social networking platforms influence public policy via participatory governance.
To investigate how social networking sites provide a suitable environment for participatory journalism and citizen journalism.
To investigate how social networking platforms can facilitate unfiltered communication and mass mobilisation at a reduced cost.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
Do social networking sites play an interactive part in Nigerian political campaigns?
Is social media impacting public policy through participatory governance?
Is social networking playing a role in political campaigns in Nigeria?
Are social networking sites a forum for citizen journalism?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses for this study are as follows: There will be a substantial association between the use of social networking sites in governance and the development of excellent public policy.
Social networking networks do not facilitate widespread mobilisation of individuals at a low cost in Nigerian politics.
The use of social networking sites will have a big impact on Nigeria's high level of accountability in governance.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This research will look at all political campaigns in Nigeria, including those of President Goodluck Jonathan and other noteworthy politicians, as well as the topic of policy formation and implementation. However, because to time constraints, I will limit my research to Lagos, which is the state with the most mobile phones and internet users in the country.
1.7 Definitions of Major Terms
Information communication technology is defined as a technology that combines computing with high-speed communication networks that transport data, sound, and video.
Political campaigns are organised efforts that attempt to influence the decision-making process within a given group. It refers to election campaigns in which MPs are elected or referendums are resolved.
Social networking sites are online services, platforms, or websites that focus on the creation and reflection of social networks or social relationships among people who share common interests and/or activities.
‘Strong' democracy is described as participatory politics, which is self-governance by citizens rather than representative government on behalf of citizens.
The majority of the information for this study would come from primary data collection and analysis. The primary data will be obtained from surveys that will be distributed electronically.
1.9 Theoretical Framework.
This study uses the normalisation theory, sometimes known as the ‘politics-as-usual' theory. This idea is divided into two polar theoretical positions: cyber-optimists on one side and dystopists on the other.
The cyber-optimists argue that new ICTs would completely revolutionise the political system, disintermediating it and allowing for direct participatory and deliberative democracy (Morris 1999, Grossman 1996, Toffler 1995, Rheingold 2002).
Dystopians, on the other hand, have cautioned about the threats to democracy, civil involvement, and freedom posed by the advancement of new ICTs (Galston 2002, Streck 1998, Stinstein 2007, Witzelm 2004). Between the two extremes, the majority of academic experts are pessimistic about the internet's ability to revitalise our democracy.