THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ELECTIONEERING CREDIBILITY

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ABSTRACT

This study will analyze the role of social media in the 2015 elections, highlighting the ways in which the key election stakeholders utilized social media during the election. The task of this study is divided into six sections. Following this introduction is the second section that explores the meaning, attributes, and classifications of social media. it analyze the watchdog role played by the media in a democratic society, also the paper take a look at the theoretical frame work, review of literature, empirical studies, the study also poss.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The 2015 general elections witnessed a remarkable use of social media as a political communication tool in Nigeria. Three major issues underline the tremendous use of social media tools during the 2015 elections. Firstly, the use of social media in Nigeria’s 2015 elections reflects a global trend towards “internet elections” or “e-electioneering” (Macnamara 2008). Around the world, rapidly expanding access to internet, increased availability of internet ready smart-phones and other communication devices, as well as the evolution of web-based new media – personal websites, social networking sites, blogs, e-newsletters, have redefined methods of political communication, leading to a significant shift towards the use of social media in the electoral process. Previously, network television and newspapers dominated coverage of electioneering and were the primary sites of election-related information. But today, the social media has become a major election information  sharing platform globally. Because of its ease of use, speed, and reach, social media is revolutionizing the efficiency of election administration, coverage and reporting.

The second issue that underline the use of social media in Nigeria’s 2015 elections is the tendency of some Nigerian politicians to tap into the opportunities offered by the social media for on-line campaigning. During the 2015 general elections, many politicians, particularly the presidential aspirants, used social media tools to connect with voters and constituents. Facebook and Twitter appear to be the most widely used social media platforms by the politicians. For example, in December 2014, it was estimated that Goodluck Jonathan had nearly 600,000 fans on his Facebook page (Ekine 2010). Other presidential aspirants like Mohammedu Buhari, Ambrose Albert, Oluremi Sonaiya, all had Twitter and other social media accounts. Political parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC also maintained Facebook accounts. Social media offered politicians and their parties the opportunity to broadcast messages and recruit a huge number of volunteers to support their campaign.3 The third issue that underscore the use of social media in Nigeria’s 2011elections is the tendency of Nigerian civil society and the electorate to take up social media as a tool for improving the efficiency of election observation.

Prior to the conduct of the 2015 elections, elections in Nigeria have been largely flawed by vote rigging and other electoral malpractices. The 2007 and 20011 elections were particularly marked by dissatisfaction by candidates, voters and observers. The elections were trailed by complaints of irregularities such as disenfranchisement of prospective voters, snatching of ballot boxes from election officials and stuffing of the boxes with invalid ballot papers, as well as allegations of  collusion between election officials and politicians to alter election results and subvert popular mandate (Ibrahim and Ibeanu 2009). The flaws that characterized the conduct of the 20011 elections severely dented the integrity of elections in Nigeria’s, and triggered demands  for freer, fairer, and more transparent elections.

To address the flaws that marred previous elections in Nigeria, various organizations, institutions and individuals set up social media platforms that enabled the citizens to oversee the electoral process and report electoral malpractices to authorities through their mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices. Through social media platforms, overwhelming number of videos, photos, tweets and comments were shared.

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ELECTIONEERING CREDIBILITY