Social media changes landscape of Phl elections
Patricia Esteves (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Social media has changed the landscape of the recently concluded Philippine elections, according to Twitter.

Pratiksha Rao, head for media partnerships in Twitter Southeast Asia, said social media, particularly Twitter, absolutely played a critical role in the general election when over 35 million election tweets were sent since the start of the year, of which over four million tweets came on election day.

“First-time voters accounted for one-third of the 50 million registered voters, meaning that around 17 million votes were up for grabs and social media is the best way to reach young Filipinos. That’s why we called this the first-ever Twitter Election in the Philippines,” Rao told The STAR.

He said one of the most important contributions of Twitter was that it was used to provide more transparency and fairness for the general election.

“The beauty of Twitter is that Filipinos could see a wide range of political views and comments about the candidates in order to make a more informed voting decision. People come to Twitter for diversity. In addition, people have been reporting voting irregularities via Twitter using the #Sumbongko hashtag and Comelec has been responding in real-time to address their concerns. In fact, one of the most retweeted tweets on election day was a reply tweet from the Comelec spokesman to investigate selfie photos with the ballot,” Rao said.

Twitter also saw the youth voice moved the election.

“For example, many of the most shared tweets on election day came from young Filipinos talking about the early election results. Even though they only have several hundred followers, their tweets were retweeted several thousand times, showing how any Filipino voice can be heard around the world on Twitter, Rao said.

Because so many young people were active on Twitter, the social media giant created special election emojis for the presidential candidates and for voting day to give the first-time voters a fun way to express themselves on Twitter.

“Young people loved the emoji designs, from the faces of the presidential candidates to an inked voting finger, which increased engagement on our platform especially for live conversations around the key moments during the election,” he said.

Last year, Twitter partnered with Comelec to get more Filipinos to participate in the election process and join the election conversation this year. The partnership focused on enabling Filipinos to get live updates on the election, to connect with others for a wide variety of political viewpoints and to express their thoughts and ideas about the candidates and election campaigns.

“There’s no doubt that Twitter contributed to the record voter turnout of over 80 percent on election day with over four million elections-related tweets on that day alone,”Rao said.

Twitter also enabled the live conversations around the elections to give people the pulse of the nation.

“For example, there were over five million tweets combined for the presidential TV debates, showing how Filipinos loved watching TV and tweeting about the candidates at the same time. Many user-generated Twitter trends and hashtags were created during the live TV broadcasts, from the #DuRiam hashtag when Duterte and Santiago hugged each other to the #PilipinasDelate hashtag when the second debate started late.

Even on election day, the Twitter conversation peaked at 5,600 tweets per minute at 7:30 p.m. when the early election results came out and people were discussing in real-time on Twitter.

He said that on election day, Twitter saw that mentions of Binay started strongly on Twitter but faded throughout the day, while mentions of Duterte started slowly on Twitter but peaked at the end of the day.

“Twitter is a reflection of society and the real-time nature of our platform is a leading indicator of what Filipinos think about the candidates during the election campaign and on voting day,” he said.





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