CHANGING FACE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

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Activities on the social media have become almost as important as, if not more than, ground-level work for politicos. And non-politicians like MBAs and techies are guiding the course of politics

First thing Suresh Prasad does in the morning is to check his phone. Even before he asks wife for bed tea, he updates himself on whatever has transpired in past 8-10 hours, when he was asleep. And he doesn’t do that by switching on TV news, but checking the social media first.

A marketing executive with a white goods company in Delhi, Prasad says: “I don’t trust the traditional media any more. Everyone has an agenda. Some are Modi bhakts, while some are pseudo secular. I want an objective view, that’s why I go to social media.”

People like Prasad are increasingly constituting a silent majority, not only in urban areas, but in rural areas as well. Mobile penetration having reached more than 97 per cent in metros, and about 80 per cent in rural areas, India has actually become a small village.

An incident that took place in the North is often conveyed on Twitter and Facebook in real time. And political parties aren’t oblivious of the trend. That is why they have taken up to social media in a big way.

They have been aware of the exponential growth of social media. Where radio took 50 years to reach 50 million users, TV took 14 years to achieve the same target. The internet got there in just four years, iPod took three years for the same whereas Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months.

Hashtag Alternative

It’s not that hashtags have completely replaced the high decibel cacophonous campaign, but the electronic campaign does complement the traditional campaign methods like banners, posters, buntings, street corner meetings and door to door campaigns.

The voter has tasted democratisation of expression through Facebook, Twitter and blogs. The 2014 Parliament elections can be termed a watershed event in this context.

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