Social Media in Politics: Simple Aggregator or Emerging Ministry of Truth?

Nihar Amoncar, Jonathan Deacon

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    Ravi and Vasundara (2015) posit that Social Networking Sites (SNS) like Twitter and Facebook have become great tools for the reluctant young Indians to actively engage in discussions concerning Political, Economic and Social issues. Within the last decade, authors have identified the competitive advantage SNS can offer in shaping Political discourse in a country as Simba (2009) highlights that beside Obama’s ability of public speaking and inspiring people, his use of Social media and Internet to engage voters provided him with the support that most of other candidates never saw.

    On the other hand, confronted by an increasingly cynical and distrustful electorate (Whiteley et al., 2016), political parties and candidates have now started to adopt digital communication tools as a means to engage with publics. Consistent with Whiteley’s assertion, several international publications earmarked the 2014 Indian general elections as “India’s first social media elections” (Pandey, 2015). Over 500 million voters turned up to exercise their right in the world’s largest democracy which also recorded a record voter turnout of 66.38% beating the previous record on 1984 polls, results showed that the BJP won the biggest victory by any party for 30 years (BBCnews.com, 2014). Authors such as Sambandan (2014) and Ravi and Vasundara (2015) have explored and discussed the approach of Indian Prime Minister Modi and his party i.e. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the use of social media for communication, these studies highlight the communication initiated from the Political party/Government end. However, this paper explores the role of Citizen initiated discussion forum on Facebook and the role they play within the national Political dialogue. The paper hence presents literature that explains how the factors that have caused social media to emerge as a tool of choice in political dialogue between Government/Party and the citizens; but more importantly the paper explores the role of region-centric Facebook based discussion forum in the political dialogue in order to gain clarity over ‘why’ social media is emerging as an alternate medium of political dialogue to Mainstream Media (MSM), what is the rationale behind social media forums like Goa+ emerging? The paper conducts a netnographic study using Administrators and Moderators of Goa+, a Facebook based Political discussion forum originating in Goa, India and consisting of over 76, 680 members.
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    Cyfnod3/07/176/07/17

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