Engaging the Electorates: Social Media and User-Generated (Dis)Content
Kizito Ogedi Alakwe
Technology, in the form of the internet and social media, has evolved to become powerful channels for enlightenment on issues of politics and electioneering. Referred to as the new political battlefield, the social media has attracted the attention of political activist, governments as well as the electorates. This paper seeks to highlight the critical role social networking sites play in political engagements and emphasises the emerging trend where social media has become a tool for expressing discontent towards governments and their policies. Today, User-Generated Content has offered citizens the opportunity to express, not only their support but also their discontent with governments, their policies and poor governance in general. Leveraging on an extensive review of extant literature and a survey of social media usage across diverse social networking platform, the paper presents evidence of a gradual trend towards using social media to voice out the ills of oppressive governments. Findings reveal that for political engagements on social media, there is a significant level of posting and sharing of content that expresses dissatisfaction and displeasure with governments. However, more importantly is that social media users do not ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ their contacts based on opposing political affiliations and views. For practical purposes, this paper affirms the need for governments to engage more with the electorates. Such engagement will facilitate a better understanding of the expectations of the citizens.