THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON VOTER BEHAVIOR IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED VOTERS IN LAGOS

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THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON VOTER BEHAVIOR IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED VOTERS IN LAGOS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The advent of internet and technology has exposed majority of the global population to different interactive platforms on which different
kinds of information is exchanged which might significantly have effect on human behavior, decision and judgment (CES, 2012). Social
media are new information network and information technology using a form of communication utilizing interactive and user-produced
content, and interpersonal relationships are created and maintained. The emergence of the Internet as the new mass medium of the 21st
century now changes the mass media substantially. Information can be distributed at high speed, low cost, and broad scope and as a result,
there is egalitarian access to the production and the consumption of news (Prat and Strömberg, 2011)
Today’s social media hasmade the world a “global village”, with the quick transfer of information overriding the challenges of time and
distance (Friedman, 2007).Social media’s has gradually become one of the important means of influencing the society and this influence is
based exclusively on its social aspects of interaction and participation. As social media gains more popularity and scope, its impact on
voters’ political and cultural perceptions cannot be underestimated as social media practically influences the way users interact,
communicate and make decisions on social, cultural, and political issues in today’s world.
Voting behavior is a form of political behavior exhibited by electorates which can be influenced by a lot of factors ranging from emotional,
ethnicity, religion leading them to make certain decisions. Various factors such as gender, race, culture or religion go a long way in affecting
the way a voter behaves and the decision he makes as regards selection of a candidate of his choice. However, key external factors may also
influence a voter’s behavior such as political socialization, socio-cultural views, tolerance of diverse political views and the media, internet
inclusive.The effect of these influences on voting behavior is dependent on attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and the source of available
information to the voter.
The social media has become a powerful medium which may affect voting behavior because of its potential to provide direct and cheap
access to the production and consumption of current information at any part of the world without editorial filtering (Sunstein, 2001). Not
only do social media provide information about political affiliations, candidates and their party manifestos, it also provides a platform
through which voters across cultural divides can relate and interact with themselves on issues about these candidates.
As evidenced by the recent March 28th Presidential elections in Nigeria, political parties, including the two prominent parties took to social
media platforms such as online networking sites, blogs, mobile newspapers, news ads, etc. to campaign and mobilize not only youths but
all class of internet users to vote for them. This brought about a variety of interesting news and drama online providing opportunity for
users to read, respond, interact, argue and trash out issues online. Twitter, facebook, blogs, online newspapers etc. became platforms for
people to air their thoughts on various candidates, and sway others towards their line of thinking with various debates, hashtags and online
campaigns. This brought all Nigerians together irrespective of political divide, ethnicity and religion on national issues.
Nearly every political party in the country used social media to campaign and advance its plans, message and manifestos to supporters
including advertising, mobilization and organizing in all the states of the federation, and even fundraising.Facebook, YouTube and
especially Twitter were used to let voters know how each party or particular candidate felt about important national issues ranging from
security to power. Hence social media became powerful enough to influence voter decisions and choices as many voters who had fixed their
minds and conscience on voting a particular party or candidate began to change their minds based on certain information or idea they got
online about the party or candidate. Information gotten by a particular voter was also not static, as the same voter would use several
internet tools and buttons to broadcast same message to other voters like him through medium such as blogs, facebook, chat rooms etc. in
order to influence them.

THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON VOTER BEHAVIOR IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED VOTERS IN LAGOS

THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON VOTER BEHAVIOR IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED VOTERS IN LAGOS