It’s Election Day. You most likely have already endured long lines under the sweltering heat just to cast that ballot. And, we’re sure, it took an even longer, heated journey just to make that choice.
Through the several months leading to this historic event, we all gathered what we now know about the candidates not merely through election posters, political ads, or campaign rallies but also, and quite prominently, through social media.
Everyone’s Facebook or Twitter account had been an election bet’s most sought after medium to deliver key messages on platforms, plans, and advocacies. And, it has been quite an efficient tactic, given that a majority of voters are coming from that particular demographic that actively uses social media.
But more than that, it is through social media that discussions about governance and politics have been so passionate and provocative. Through these, a citizen gets more participative in the issues that shape the nation, especially in the choice for President, as they either post or share insightful views or opinions, the latest news, or even those hilarious memes to their own friends or followers.
In fact, social media has steadily become a key decision making factor for the social media-obsessed electorate, as they almost believe at an instant all that have been shared and can be seen on their walls or feeds.
But sadly, without any regulations and control over the content being uploaded or passed on, anyone can virtually post anything, even damaging and destructive baseless attacks against candidates as they try to take advantage of a user’s gullibility. Anyone can just create an account spuriously representing a supposed news organization posting false information about candidates, either charging one of certain misdeeds or glorifying or praising another with fake endorsements or achievements.
In other words, dirty politics got even worse. And social media, though the convenient tool in culling updates and insights, has become an effective tool to mislead the public in making a terrible choice for public office.
As social media emerged as a main political “battlefield” in the 2016 elections, choosing and filtering what is consumed on your wall or feed is something truly worth your time. Just like any form of media, never fall for anything unsubstantiated, especially those that come from unreliable sources. Choose your sources—credible and renowned news organizations or information providers who remain on a neutral standpoint throughout the process.
Regulations? Maybe that still is a sensitive topic to discuss given how we cherish the rewards of being able to post what we think or feel without fear of suppression. But maybe we can start with purging Facebook or Twitter with these fake news pages or troll accounts that have definitely violated these social media networks’ terms of agreement.
But regardless of the pitfalls, the surge of social media in such a landmark and significant event is definitely a good sign. It provides an engaging, superbly efficient way for the electorate to not only express their views, sides, or even choice of candidate, but also influence and embolden a great many others to follow their lead and eventually make the right choice for the country’s good.
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Banner illustration by Jana Jimenez