The Web and the 2010 Election

Now the election is over and a new President and Vice President has been proclaimed, I feel this is the right time for me to speak about the 2010 election, especially the relevance of the internet in the political campaign of each candidates.

Let’s do away with the Smartmatic and PCOS machine thing. With the wide media coverage given to the issue, by now most of you are already technology experts. Encryption, jamming, source code, transmission, CF cards, hash code, servers, and PCOS machines are just some of the technology terms that you are familiar with nowadays. So let’s move on.

Most if not all candidates used the web to promote their candidacy, especially in the Presidential and Vice Presidential position. The most number of banners I saw were the banners of Manny Villar, Gilbert Teodoro and President elect Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino III (not necessarity in that order). I failed to see banner ads for Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas and Vice-President elect Jejomar Binay.

I remember seeing the banners of the presidential candidates in search engine sites and social networking sites particularly Facebook. I also visited the official website of each and I would say that the site are well-designed and was able to deliver its purpose – to promote the candidate.

So the question is – Does the Internet Matter in Election Politics? If yes, then how come it failed to deliver the much needed vote to Manny Villar to win the highest position of the land. What most of the candidates failed to see is what the internet could bring to their campaign. Most of them used the internet for promotion – they didn’t use it to communicate.

The candidates failed to include the internet as part of their campaign strategy – as in integrate it with their overall strategy. Most of them treated the internet as just another medium to promote – just like TV, print and radio.

Their web strategist failed to see the real potential and power of the internet. Let’s take for instance Facebook. Most of the candidates created their own fan pages and the fans who joined were in millions. But if you look closely at the content, meaning the conversation that is going on in the page, most of the postings are smear campaigns and thrash talks among supporters and non-supporters. Of course there are praises and campaign schedules but who’s interested to read those.

Social networks are vehicles to communicate. Most of its members are the younger voters who wants to be involved and be heard. So candidates should communicate with these fans and not simply allow them to talk to each other. The fanpage becomes a venue for people to throw invectives at each other which defeats the purpose of the fanpage.

In a research published by Pew Internet, 28% of wired Americans say that the internet makes them feel more personally connected to the campaign, and 22% say that they would not be as involved in the campaign if not for the internet. At the same time, however, even larger numbers feel that the internet magnifies the most extreme viewpoints and is a source of misinformation for many voters.

This study simply proves my point earlier, the power of the internet is to communicate. But communicating with the voting public in cyberspace is also equivalent to transparency. Candidates need to be as honest as possible (a trait most of them don’t have). With information readily available on the web, checking the veracity of certain facts or postings is a few clicks away.

So to me, the internet played a very little role in the recently concluded 2010 election. It failed to serve its purpose. President elect Aquino and Vice President elect Binay won because people see in them hope. Sincerity and integrity played a very big role in this election. And it is something the internet could have help magnify it if use correctly.

As I always say, let us give our trust and confidence to the newly elected officials of the land first, then let these officials prove to use that they are worthy of our trust and confidence.

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