Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Role of Social Media in Afghanistan's April 2014 Election
No one can ignore the significant role that Facebook and twitter has played in the recent presidential and provincial council election in Afghanistan. Rule of social media, especially Facebook has been more visible before, during, and after Election Day. There are 820,000 Facebook users, over 18 years old, in the country, out of which 120,000 are female.
Upon the start of election campaign period, February 2, 2014, presidential candidates started their Facebook campaigns through posting on their Facebook accounts, created for election purpose, and advertising in Facebook. By Facebook posting each candidate could reach to 10s of thousands of followers. The two leading candidates, Dr.AbdullahAbdullahh (with 280,191 likes) and Dr.Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (40,342 likes), are more active in Facebook. Dr.Ashraf Ghani is also active on twitter, with 14,400 followers. Nearly all-8 presidential candidates used Facebook advertisement and reached to all Facebook users (820,000 people) in Afghanistan. candidates used social media to share rallies videos, speeches, Pictures and answering to the questions asked by their followers. Facebook was a very handy, easy, and cheap tool for presidential candidates to reach young and educated generation and share their strategies and plans for the future of the country. In addition, Facebook users had 24/7 accesses to candidates plan, strategies, videos, and speeches and remained in the loop of rallies all over Afghanistan. I do firmly believe that Facebook had a great role in encouraging young generation to vote.
Facebook role was greater during the Election Day. Minutes after the official start of polling, people started sharing pictures of long lines of people waiting to vote. Facebook could embrace and cover more pictures and news than TVs around the country. In addition people, with their smartphones, where capturing attempts of fraud and posting them within seconds, which I believe could prevent a number of frauds across the country.There are 100s of such videos and pictures on Facebook.
Social media is still playing a great role in post election day. Election results and fraud investigations are among the hottest issues in Facebook and twitter now . People still sharing videos and other fraud evidences. I was following election results a couple of days ago and was looking at TVs and social media. I was surprised how fast twitter is in sharing information. Just seconds after result announcement started, I got the results through twitter.
few pictures of election day shared by Facebook users