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Social Media and Oppositions Parties: Networking for Singapore’s General Elections. Dr. James Gomez Deputy Associate Dean (International) Senior Lecturer & Head of Public Relations Monash University james.gomez@monash.edu. Political Communication.

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social media and oppositions parties networking for singapore s general elections

Social Media and Oppositions Parties:Networking for Singapore’s General Elections

Dr. James Gomez

Deputy Associate Dean (International)

Senior Lecturer & Head of Public Relations

Monash University

james.gomez@monash.edu

political communication
Political Communication
  • Opposition Parties operate in an one-party state.
  • Mainstream media is either indirectly owned by the PAP government or those close to it.
  • Opposition parties are denied equally access to the mainstream media.
  • Opposition parties are subjected to the PAP’s constant negative campaigning (via mainstream media), both during and in-between elections.
opposition parties the internet in s pore i
Opposition Parties & the Internet in S’pore I
  • Started in mid 90s with non-interactive websites where users were limited to the passive viewing of information on the internet (one-way information dissemination of party news and view points on issues).
  • Static - Uploaded information about the parties, office holders and candidates, shared photos of their activities, disseminate press releases, news, commentary, texts of parliamentary and public speeches and sent out information via email lists,.
opposition parties the internet in s pore ii
Opposition Parties & the Internet in S’pore II
  • Interactive - Later opposition parties participated in online discussion forums, administered online petitions, used blog software to uploaded podcasts and videos.
  • Collectively these enabled opposition parties to:
    • promote their agenda,
    • encourage political discussion and
    • manage their political identity among key supporters and networks.
    • Identify, attract, recruit party workers
social media opposition parties
Social Media & Opposition Parties
  • Starting early 2000, opposition parties in Singapore began to operate in an environment where users interact with other users to respond to and change the communication message of online content.
  • Interactivity first came onboard through email and mailing group replies, discussion forums and later via “comments” features on blogs.
  • Two-way online communication became more pronounced from 2005 when online social media platforms became publically available.
  • Opposition parties and its supporters then began experimenting with Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube and Twitter.
wikipedia
Wikipedia
  • many of the entries for opposition parties were started as “stubs” around the end of 2004
  • content for the main opposition parties than grew while information on minor parties remain as “stubs”
  • Wikipedia entries for opposition parties/key members, in almost all cases, are less substantial, less comprehensive and less visually appealing than information available on their official party websites.
  • Entries of opposition parties/key members are often contested and subjected to change by general users and “Wiki” editors hence not always reliable in terms of accuracy and breadth.
youtube i
YouTube I
  • YouTube came into political prominence in Singapore during the 2006 general elections when bloggers began to post clips of speeches made at opposition elections rallies. This was done in clear defiance of government announcement prior that such posting were against the Parliamentary Elections Act and punishable by law.
  • Since the 2006 general elections opposition parties, its members and supporters have also been using YouTube to post speeches of party leaders, clips of at party events and other related activities during
youtube ii
YouTube II
  • presently only the SDP and RF have set up a dedicated channel on YouTube.
    • SDP has the “singaporedemocrats” channel http://www.youtube.com/user/singaporedemocrats and
    • the Reform Party has set up “SGReformPartyTV” channel http://www.youtube.com/sgreformpartytv
twitter i
Twitter I
  • the use of Twitter is also part of the post-2006 general election online phenomenon
  • the following parties SDP, NSP, RP and WP had set up twitter accounts
  • the bulk of the announcements on opposition party Twitters are alerts to news and updates on parties’ website or lists of time and venue of party outreach activities
twitter ii
Twitter II
  • it is expected that during major political events that are of a dramatic nature or during elections, when people want constant updates, Twitter is expected to play a prominent role in Singapore .
  • Its outreach will be dependent on the number of Twitter followers
  • Twitter is now integrated with other platforms such as websites, blogs, free emails sites & Facebook. All platforms can be uploaded simultaneously via SMS.
facebook in singapore
Facebook in Singapore
  • Of all the social networking sites globally, the most popular is Facebook - in 2010 has 400 million users and about 50% users log on everyday
  • according to the website www.checkfacebook.com the city-state has a country audience of 1,716,320 or 0.54% of the global audience
  • Approximately three-quarters of Singapore Facebook users are above 18 years old, with the largest group being between 18-45 years old
singapore opposition facebook
Singapore Opposition & Facebook
  • Singapore’s active opposition parties have a presence either directly, through their youth wings, via supporters or through members’ personal accounts on Facebook
  • These include, the National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic Alliance, Singapore Democrat Party, Reform Party and Workers’ Party and some of their lead politicians.
table 1 opposition parties
Table 1: Opposition Parties

Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710

table 2 youth wings of politics parties
Table 2: Youth Wings of Politics Parties

Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710

table 3 opposition party leaders
Table 3: Opposition Party Leaders

Complied from www.facebook.com on 020710

table 4 selected pap facebook accounts
Table 4: Selected PAP Facebook accounts

Complied from www.facebook.com on 030710

table 5 electoral issue pages
Table 5: Electoral Issue Pages

Complied from www.facebook.com on 030710

significance of facebook political communications
Significance of Facebook Political Communications
  • Provide some indication of party membership, support
  • Level of comfort among individuals willing to openly identify with an opposition party or its politician online.
  • Personal profile of key political individuals are often more popular then that of the parties.
  • Individual face book accounts seen to be managed directly by the respective individuals attract more support than those managed on their behalf by supporters.
faceless on facebook
Faceless on Facebook
  • A rise in the number of “faceless” FB accounts befriending opposition parties and politicians.
  • These faceless FB accounts are created only for political purposes and only feature “friends” in the political circle they do not include members from their normal social circle.
  • People with regular FB accounts are still afraid to join as “friends” of an opposition party. But some are willing to join individual politicians as “friends”. Others remove themselves as “friends” from friends who have “added” or “accepted” a friend request from opposition parties/politicians.
  • There is a trend both among opposition and PAP to delete “friends” or their postings from known or “faceless” FB profiles in an attempt to manage what is posted on their Facebook page.
the network effect during singapore s next general elections
The Network Effect During Singapore’s Next General Elections
  • The number of members joining the various Facebook pages of political parties and key party figures will increase in the run up to the next general elections.
  • Election issue specific pages that will be set up in the run up and during elections whose numbers is expected to swell dramatically
  • Volume of postings and “like” on these Facebook accounts will also spike during this period.
  • With the cooling of period legislation passed, more online activity during cooling off day can be expected to take place via Facebook because of its `closed` nature.
conclusions
Conclusions
  • If in the last elections it was blogs, Facebook is will be the online platform to watch in the next general elections scheduled to take place by February 2012.
  • Blogs and websites will play a role, but their role will be complemented by FB where the bulk of the information integration and dissemination will take place in the form of micro blogging via twitter through mobile 3G devices.
  • While in the Singapore case the use of social media tools by opposition parties and its key figures are relatively modest, it is nevertheless has become part of their strategic outreach communications that they will use in the next elections.