ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN GENERATING POLITICAL AWARENESS AMONG YOUTH
In past, people have to wait the whole day to get daily newspaper to know about the happenings and news about national and international affairs. That was the time of print media. The only source of getting news is from newspaper. After that TV and Radios were introduced. With the passage of time and advancement in technology, computers and cell phones were invented. It provides easiness for individual to connect with the whole world. New technologies replaced the old ones such as radio is replaced by TV, letters and fax by text messages and E-mails. CITATION Zaf13 l 1033 (Zafar Ali, 2013) Social media has become the most powerful source for getting speedy news updates through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, Tumbler and many others. This modern innovation is also becoming a source of political activism and social movements. It has become a new mean not only used by companies and individuals to promote their business but also by political and opinion leaders to generate opinions regarding political and social issues.
Social media is not just a communication platform but it has become a symbol of online presence for companies and individuals alike. It has become a must for every person, a businessman, celebrity, media person, politicians or general public and even the Government to create accounts on social media sites. Now-a-days we can see Government officials, different authorities, public relation officers, spokesperson of organizations and leaders of political parties use their Twitter or Facebook accounts to make announcements, to give message to their followers and to get general public response. Facebook and Twitter provides platform to everyone to express their opinions. Through these sites, youth are provided with the opportunity to comment on different issues, raise their voices against injustice, to question their representatives and also to record their protest against wrong policies of Government. CITATION Sai14 l 1033 (Saima Zareen, 2014) In Pakistan, the internet made its appearance in 1995. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over 44 million users. According to the stats of 2016, provided by PTA, the number of Facebook users is 30 million across Pakistan, whereas Twitter is also fast becoming preferred social media site lag behind with 3.1 million users. Social media in Pakistan is frequently used for variety of purposes including e-commerce, socio-political discussions, advertising and marketing purposes and political activism. CITATION Aye l 1033 (Karamat, Emerging role of social media in political activism) Pakistan stands as the sixth most populous country in the world with a population of 180 million. Two-third of the population is under the age of 30, because of which Pakistan is comparatively young and energetic nation. Facebook is used by much of the youth of Pakistan, over 50 lac people in Pakistan, in which half of them half between 18-24 ages. Among all the users, 27 percent of the internet users are only Facebook users.
Social media and Politics
Using social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has changed the ways of election campaigns and voters perspectives. Social media forums are used by political parties and their leaders to strengthen their vote bank. In Pakistan, we have seen the use of social media in General elections in 2013. This is in perspective of the fact that 34 percent of Pakistani population comprises of youth. So, the idea was to target the youth of 18-24 age group who were going to cast their first vote. CITATION Lub l 1033 (Zaheer)Pakistani Political Parties and Social Media
This initiative was taken by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who was one of the first party to launch themselves on social media, specially Facebook and Twitter. It is clear without any doubt that the popularity of the chairman of PTI, Imran Khan was increased manifold because of social media. He conveyed his policies and party agenda through social media that attracted large number of elite class, who came out for the very first time to vote in GE, 2013. Following PTI’s trend, other mainstream political parties such as PPP, PML-N and MQM started using social media. They use social media to expand on their party policies and providing updates about party leadership to their followers or voters.
Face book is a very common social media platform launched by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. People are posting their views concerning politics and social issues sharing news articles, following political figures, watching political talk shows and tweeting about politics more commonly.
The chairman of PTI, Imran Khan official page has 7,957,552 likes and PTI official Facebook page is liked by 5,698,918 people. PML (N)’s official Facebook page is liked by 33,655 people and they are actively advertising their policies and future projects on Facebook. Punjab’s Chief Minister has his own social media team and he himself interacts with people on Facebook and Twitter. According to available figures, the official PTI website gets more than 100,000 hits daily from across the country and abroad. The PML (N) website gets around 1,200 hits per day. Even Jamaat-e-Islami is maintaining a web presence through its 3,000 visitors daily.
Another social media site is Twitter, launched in 2006. There are approximately three to four million Twitter users in Pakistan and a significant percentage of them actively use the platform to air their political views. While Twitter has become a part and parcel of Pakistani politics, it might be interesting and insightful to compare which politician is making the best use of this highly powerful medium. A quick comparison reveals that while Imran Khan has the highest following on Twitter, Maryam Nawaz is the one who perhaps makes the most of it.
The most followed politicians on Twitter, include Imran Khan with 6.08M followers, Asad Umar 4.01M and Maryam Nawaz 4M. The next ones in the list are Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif 3.02M, Bilawal Bhutto 2.02M, Bakhtawar Bhutto 1.7M, Aseefa Bhutto 1.7M and Jahangir Tareen 1.8M. All these politicians have verified accounts. Whereas Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Zardari have no official presence on Twitter.
Almost all politicians seem to use Twitter to publicize their performance, quoting articles or statistics. The provincial chief minister Punjab often retweets posts from the Punjab government, while Imran Khan frequently quotes performance of the K-P government. Maryam Nawaz was mostly seen asking load shedding updates and criticizing their opponents. Aseefa and Bakhtawar on numerous occasions have posted reports showing how the polio threat has gone down in Sindh.
Social media and Revolution
Now-a-days it is necessary not only for students but also for everyone to have knowledge about the recent happenings occurring the world. Social media is awareness among masses, because of social media we can see popular revolutions in the Arab world that results in ending of the monarchy or authoritarian regimes. These revolutions are also known as Facebook/ Twitter revolutions. Egyptian revolution is also a great example of power of social media. Facebook, Twitter and blogging helped them spreading their voice against corruption, injustice and, unemployment and police brutality. “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world”, said by an Egyptian activist by his tweet. CITATION Egy l 1033 (Egyptian revolution of 2011). The utilization of social media in Arab states joint action is not a new marvel, since the tools of social media have clear arbitrated politics in the region during last decade. CITATION Aye16 l 1033 (Karamat, 2016)Political Activism
To see that whether social media is playing role in political activism or not, few examples from history go in the favor of social media concerning political activism. That includes protest in Egypt, Syria, and Bahrain by the mobilization of common people by social media. Social media in Pakistan have become an extended army of democracy of Pakistan from which nothing can be hidden and is now becoming a major pressure group, which no one can ignore. Social media has perhaps made Pakistan’s democracy more inclusive. CITATION Ham14 l 1033 (Siddique, 2014)Social media and Freedom of speech
Social media is an open platform for everyone, which gives voice to anyone who wishes to use it, thus it is becoming an important pillar of any society. It provides an opportunity to everyone to share their opinions. Opinion and the right of speech are critical to any democracy and its growth. It might seem like a lot of noise now but this is the only platform our youth has to engage in conversation with one another.
Active participation on the social media has become a norm for the political parties in Pakistan. There is a continuous increase in the popularity of political leaders on Facebook and Twitter, that shows that young generation is more politically educated. This shows their interest in political activities. It is also a positive trend for the growth of political system in Pakistan and it would provide forums to new parties and also to young future leaders who are unable to get a fair chance of the political system due to poor system.
Social media and Elections
No doubt social media is becoming an indispensable tool for political democracy. Social media has given a new dimension to the concept of elections in Pakistan. It has ensured the participation of youth as well as the elite class in the whole process when they had been mostly aloof earlier. As a result, there was a huge turnout in the 2013 elections. Despite this, the fact is that it impact remain concentrated in the middle and upper class. Youth is becoming part of this system and propaganda by ‘sharing’ or ‘retweeting’ news without verifying it.
Political apathy is the indifference of any citizen of a country with regard to their attitude towards political activities. When someone cannot bother to participate in the country’s political system, show no interest in political activities such as electing politicians, having opinions and their civic responsibility. This could be due to lack of understanding the political system and not knowing the worth of vote and benefits of Government policies being put forward. Political apathy is considered as an issue because for a nation’s development and for its law to function, it is necessary to have a high level of political awareness in society. CITATION Rea l 1033 (Reasons for political apathy)Social media and Ethics
The use of abusive and slang language, baseless allegations, damaging accusations, and the mocking of opponent have already been accepted as a part of social media politics in Pakistan. Intolerance in political arena of Pakistan has been there for long time, but because of introduction of social media politics, it has achieved new heights. Intolerance towards political and ideological differences has been shown all over the world, but in Pakistan being a passionate, emotional and extremist people, has taken it to a level where it has become a menace for society. We still have not learnt to respect other’s political opinion or point of view. It is also a fact that social media websites have also played a role in spreading intolerance in Pakistan’s politics. CITATION Int12 l 1033 (Intolerance in Pakistan politics, 2012)Problem Statement
Social media is playing an effective role in political socialization. To what extent the political content present on social media is creating political awareness among youth. This study will enable us to understand the role of social media in generating political awareness, also the significance of social media in political system of Pakistan. In this study, we will try to find out the effects of social media participation particularly on youth.
Significance of the Study
We are living in the social media era. People are using social media for different purposes. Now-a-days the use of SNS’s for political purposes are highly observed. It is found that people use to share political content such as News, videos related to political parties and are also found commenting on political issues. This research will help us find out that social media can be used as a powerful tool in political scenario of Pakistan.
Objectives of the study
To know whether the social media is creating political socialization among youth.
To know whether social media is creating political awareness among youth.
To know whether political campaign through social media is getting successful.
CITATION Pyn09 l 1033 (Payne, 2009) Examines the use of social networking sites in the 2008 presidential elections. The main emphasis was on Facebook and how it impacted the youth vote. This study showed that social-networking sites more than likely did have an impact on the election. Social networking sites are easy way to reach not only young voters, but voters of all age group. It is also a quick and cheap way to reach voters and deliver message.
CITATION Jih131 l 1033 (K.Raoof, 2013) This paper shows the importance of online social networking in modern society. It shows the social network usage in politics, and how this usage of social networking sites has grown in different aspects of political life during past few years. It shows the significance of social media in political campaigning and presented new ideas about the utilization of new techniques in politics. Along with this it showed the political behaviors of society and motivations behind political participation.
CITATION Sco l 1033 (Scott P.Robertson) Studied the use of internet for political campaigns in 2008 U.S. elections. According to this the candidates have adopted many internet tools, including Facebook and Twitter, for communication purpose with voters. It also studied the voting behaviors and patterns of the individuals, who participate in the political dialogues on the Facebook sites and also their participation and involvement in political activities.
CITATION Kri111 l 1033 (Smith, 2011) Social media is affecting political campaigns. It showed an overall support of social media playing a significant role in political campaigns, especially Barak Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, also the growing importance of social media to future political campaigns.
According to Matthew James study in Nov, 2010 published in Mass communication and society, “the growth of online political behavior has been facilitated partly by the recent emergence of new interactive media. Social media allow users to not only seek information but also interact with others through online expression such as commenting on political blogs etc. These social media sites are used by the candidates and voters as well, it encourage the participation of voters.
CITATION Hon12 l 1033 (Hong, 2012) This shows the impact of social media in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections, by testing an association between candidate salience and its level of engagement In online social media sphere. Social media is a widely recognized tool, has the potential to change the traditional dynamics of U.S. election campaigns. It shows that social media expand the methods of election campaigns, high level of social media activity by the presidential election candidates resulted in minimal effects on the amount of public attention received online.
CITATION Ade13 l 1033 (Rehman, 2013) He says that media is the most powerful tool for the empowering youth regarding politics. It provides information and education that will shape the daily choices in life especially in youth. The study found that media is playing a vital role in changing and reshaping youth’s opinion about politics and their selected candidates.
CITATION Kat08 l 1033 (Kate Dunsmore, 2008) This study shows that youth are less involved in socio-political issues. Sources such as TV, Internet, TV talk shows and Reality shows can be an important source of political and civic engagement among youth. Media production projects are also an additional tool for developing political knowledge and awareness among youth.
CITATION DrJ16 l 1033 (K.Saroha, 2016) Researcher study illustrated that politics will always be a hot topic between people, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to not be educated about politics. Having political debates makes our society so interesting. Television talk shows play a role in creating political awareness among youth. The idea behind this study was to determine the extent to which TV talk shows have influenced youth’s knowledge. Media is a vast concept through which we can know what’s happening in the nation and around the world. Media plays a vital role in the people’s perception, behavior and their thinking about politics.
CITATION Anw16 l 1033 (Anwaar Ahmed Bhatti, 2016) This study explains that electronic media is a fast growing medium that immediately provides information about latest happening around the world. Electronic media is efficient in creating political awareness among people through political talk shows and debates. Media should present the actual picture of our politics and politicians.
CITATION Lar l 1033 (Larsson, 2012) This case study was focused on the Twitter use during the 2010 Swedish elections. After the successful employment of the internet campaigns during 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, showed that social media applications like Twitter, provides interesting opportunities to candidates for online campaigning. The study identifies different types base on how high-end users utilized Twitter service.
CITATION Xin14 l 1033 (Xinzhi Zhang, 2014) This study examines the association between political participation and the use of social networking sites in Mainland China. It investigates how individual participates in political activities via social networking sites, where access to online information is restricted and censored. Study showed that SNS’s are not only a new channel for individuals to express political concerns but a new platform to maintain state legitimacy.
CITATION Met15 l 1033 (Meti V, 2015) This paper finds the extent use of social media by the political parties to promote their manifesto and message, among their supporters and peoples in social media. It examines how people perceive the political issues or discussion on social media. This also shows that those who use social media may discover political activities in social media and through this way they intensify their political knowledge and improve their political participation.
CITATION End13 l 1033 (Yunus, 2013) This thesis research focuses on the strength of social media in creating political awareness and mobilizing political protests in Turkey specifically. The role of social media in political movement and social movement in country are examined as case study. Social media played a fundamental role in social movements in Turkey. Youth showed great interest in online social networking and these networking sites established connections between people and political information. Increase in internet penetration and SNS’s for political purposes, the strength of social media in generating political approach and mobilizing political protests is expected to rise in future as well.
The special attention in this topic is given to political awareness, election campaigns, political participation and public opinion as a product. The study falls under the umbrella of ‘Social Learning Theory’.
Social Learning Theory
This theory tells us that ‘People learn from observation’. It further explains how people learn from each other through observing their behaviors and attitudes. The theory was presented by Albert Bandura. Social media has become much more relevant than ever before because of its easy access and high exposure among young people. Youth are spending much of their time on social media that affects their learning abilities and behaviors. It is helping young minds to understand situation better because they are spending so much of their time on social media.
Social media is a vast concept, full of information. Besides work, people are also spending much time and social space on social media sites like Face book, twitter, and Instagram etc. They are interacting with different people from different regions and background. There is a variety of different cultures, thoughts and behaviors on social media. Along with the exchange of opinions and thoughts among people on social media, they also learn new concepts and different behaviors. Social media is playing a role in social learning of individuals. This theory relates with the research topic as it is trying to figure out the effects of social media in youth, specifically political awareness through social media.
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