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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Looking back at the hits and misses of a social media election

N Madhavan, Hindustan Times   May 12, 2014
First Published: 00:26 IST(12/5/2014) | Last Updated: 00:55 IST(12/5/2014)

When President Obama won re-election in November 2012, this column said “Be prepared for social media in 2014 elections”. I pegged it on the US leader tweeting his thank-you message.
 
Turns out that social media did play an important role in this year’s elections, with both Congress and BJP, the leading parties, and others, setting up special cells to lead their campaigns.

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Here is exactly what I wrote: “In India, social media will influence the mainstream media, set the agenda for television and will be a source for spotting the “buzz” that will function like television debates of the new age in which citizens are participants”.

That is where I was right. But here is where I was wrong, when I wrote: “My guess is that Facebook may play a bigger role in India than Twitter, because culturally, it is friendlier than Twitter and also allows “pages” around which people rally and debate issues. “

I am not sure if that was the case. Although Facebook played a major role, Twitter was clearly more political.

Looking back, there were two additions I would have liked to spot earlier. On the lighter side, it was the rise of WhatsApp, which played a role at least in the circulation of political jokes, though I did mention SMS-based groups.

The more important was the arrival of election-related apps –for Android or iOS or Windows, which compiled information on candidates, past elections, performance and the like.

I had ended the column by saying: “Whatever be the detail, be prepared for democracy on steroids.”  As the long, tiring elections end, it does ring true.


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