How effective is social media campaigning?


MANILA - A political analyst talked about how the use of social media is changing the election landscape.

Speaking to ANC's "Beyond Politics," Professor Edmund Tayao of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) said the use of social media has become significant in election campaign, since it was used in the 2010 elections.

"I have to say it has become very significant now, starting from 2010 most especially. I know of a national candidate who managed to win the national elections without going through the traditional way of campaigning - going around, pressing flesh and attending sorties. No. This candidate has become very much tech-savvy and very much accessible to the media anytime. So kapag tinanong mo siya, he can explain in one or two terms what's the advantage of which," he explained.

Along with the use of social media comes "trolls," or people who heckle candidates and their supporters online. For Tayao, these trolls can be used by politicians to their advantage.

"Marami nang technology, maraming mga trolls kasi. The trolls are not there only to pester people like us, who talk about issues publicly, but they are the ones who heckle candidates. And to tell you frankly, these are also paid groups. And its very easy to trace them. It's just a question really of whether there's an effort to trace them. But I'm sure the different political groups are able to trace them."

The same is true for satirical articles that are often shared online.

For Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez, the existence of trolls and groups that can be paid to heckle other politicians is what the government should look into.

"That's exactly the place we are trying to safeguard. I mean, when you are online and you are not a newscaster, it's perfectly normal, in fact, desirable for you to have a position. And if you have a position, you push for that position. If you believe this person is good for the country, why not, campaign for him."

"Ang problema lang, 'yung tensyon is between 'yung ginagawa mo of your own volition, unpaid at 'yung fina-farm na kayo. 'Yun ang dapat alamin," Jimenez added.

According to Tayao, these groups can be traced just by monitoring how much the name of a certain candidate is mentioned, and in what way it is mentioned.

"The frequency of how many times your name was mentioned. You can even filter it, ano, in what way it is mentioned, so makukuha mo na 'yun eh. You can start from there, who's paid and not paid," he added.

Unfortunately, the Comelec has no specific rule in regulating so-called ''negative'' advertisements meant to discredit a particular candidate, so those groups paid to say negative comments about other candidates are not violating any election rule or law.

They, however, can be charged with libel or slander.

''Walang ipinagbabawal doon sa mga tinatawag nating negative o attack ads. Hinahayaan naman 'yan. Kaya lang, meron din tayong ibang mga batas tulad ng laws on slander and libel na kung masyadong malakas o masyadong negatibo ang mga ads na ito, eh baka makasuhan sila," Comelec chairman Andres Bautista told radio dzMM.

READ: In PH, there's no rule vs 'attack' ads: Comelec