BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Social Networking have already transformed the national political landscape. In his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama pioneered the application of big data and microtargeting on social media, improving his chances of winning the presidency. More recently, a record number of women, Muslims, and people of color got elected into the 116th Congress. Many of these previously unknown politicians could win the office despite their limited financial resources thanks to their effective use of social media.
Tom Murse (2019), writing for Thought Co., indicates that “the use of social media in politics dramatically changed the way campaigns are run.” Social media use in politics is a new phenomenon in communications studies. Similar in manifestation to integrated marketing campaigns where branding and dialogue are key to success, political campaigns now use social media to establish the candidate’s political identity, to educate and attract voters, and to disseminate information. Allison Gosman (2016) explains that social media “has become a powerful mechanism for political campaigns to strategize their communication plans” leading to the creation of shareable content that candidates and supporters can use to increase awareness, engage public, and appeal for votes. Paired with traditional political analytics like party affiliation and exit polls, social media are useful in predicting voter behavior. Understanding the many platforms–their reach, capabilities, and mechanics–are essential to politics in the 21st century.
DiGrazia G. (2013) find that the online “‘buzz’ about a candidate on social media can be used as an indicator of voter behavior” specifically on Twitter and finds that this “holds regardless of whether the Tweet is positive or negative”. Authors also conclude that polling data is only a subset of information candidates need to be successful; that social media analytics are essential in to the modern campaign.
With its low cost and high precision, social network platform such as twitter has quickly become a political necessity. It allows candidates with limited financial resources to communicate their message to specific audiences at a fraction of the cost of conventional communication channels. Couple with the fact social networking site have been used by different political candidates to gain online presence and communicate their with their audience and political parties hosting online campaigns, thus a ban in any of their social media handle such as twitter may affect electorates participation in politics thus increasing the high rate of apathy among eligible voter to elect such candidate.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Younger generations are becoming more involved in politics due to the increase of political news posted on various types of social media. Due to the heavier use of social media among younger generations, they are exposed to politics more frequently, and in a way that is integrated into their online social lives.A communication platform such as social media is persuasive, and often works to change or influence opinions when it comes to political views because of the abundance of ideas, thoughts, and opinions circulating through the social media platform. It is found that political candidates through new on twitter leads to political persuasion, therefore the more that people use social media platforms for political news sources, the more their political opinions will be affected. However owing to the recent twitter ban by the Federal Government of Nigeria on 5th June 2021, there are speculation that this will have an effect on poltical campaign of both polotical candidates and sponsored political parties in Nigeria considering the forth coming 2023 general election. Suc effect might include less political participation of legible voters in the electioneering or negative choice while voting a representative due to lack of information about the candidate which would have been made handy on social network platforms. Therefore it is against the backdrop that this study is geared towards examine the effect of twitter ban on political campaign.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of twitter ban on political campaign. Specifically it will
- Ascertain the nature of twitter ban effect on electorate political opinion in Nigeria.
- Investigate the extent to which political campaign was promoted through political parties’ twitter handle before the twitter ban in Nigeria.
- Investigate the extent to which political awareness were created through political parties’ twitter account before the twitter ban in Nigeria.
- Examine if the current twitter ban in Nigeria will affect electorates level of participation and choice of candidate in view of the upcoming 2023 general election.
The research is guided by the following questions:
- What is the nature of twitter ban effect on electorate political opinion in Nigeria?
- What was the extent to which political campaign was promoted through political parties’ twitter handle before the twitter ban in Nigeria?
- What was the extent to which political awareness were created through political parties’ twitter account before the twitter ban in Nigeria?
- Will the current twitter ban in Nigeria affect electorates’ level of participation and choice of candidate in view of the upcoming 2023 general election.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Since this study portrays the nature of twitter ban effect on political campaign and also the significant roles played by this subject under study, it is therefore pivotal to note that the findings and theoretical aspect of this work will be relevant to the to political parties, candidates and electorates. . More so study will also be significantly useful to students and researchers and other individuals who may have the interest to gather or carryout any study related to the topic.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study borders on the effect of twitter ban on political campaign. The study is however limited to a political party since they are the body that project their party candidate through political campaign on social network. The political party selected is PDP in Akwa Ibom State, Thus party members of PDP in Uyo Secretariat forms the respondent for the study.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The limitations of this study includes:
Finance: Due to the economic difficulty that the researcher was experiencing, the prospect of a greater sample size, which would have enabled the study to reach a larger region, has become impossible; thus, this work is limited to only Uyo Local Governemnt in Akwaibom State.
Time: It was not surprising that the researcher was limited by time frame as it posed a direct challenge to the effective coverage intended in the course of this report. It is the intention of the researcher to interview all the political party members of the selected State but because of numerous activities of the researcher which borders on both academics, work schedules and other social activities it became relatively impossible to explain the intention hence party members of PDP in Uyo senatorial zone was enrolled as participant of the study.
Attitude of respondents: The majority of members fail to collect the questionnaires, and some who do collect pay urgent attention required in filling and returning it, and others did not return theirs at all. Others were less accommodating and may have provided untrustworthy information because they were afraid of being exposed, despite the researcher’s promise that all information would be treated with the utmost secrecy and only for education purpose.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Twitter: Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them.
Twitter Ban: this is the authoritative pause in the operation of twitter as mandated by the Federal government of Nigeria on June 5th 2021 until the owners of the social network meet the newly established requirement given to them by the government of Nigeria.
Political Campaign: A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making progress within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, by which representatives are chosen or referendums are decided
CNN (2021) Nigeria bans Twitter after company deletes President Buhari’s tweet”. . Retrieved 5 June 2021.
DiGrazia G. (2013) The personalization of politics: Political identity, social media, and changing patterns of participation. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 644(1), 20-39.
Gosman, A. (2016, October 20). Real life lessons: Social media and the 2016 presidential election. Nasdaq Corporate Solutions. Retrieved from https://business.nasdaq.com/marketinsite/2016/Real-Life-Lessons-Social-Media-and-the-2016-Presidential-Election.html
Murse, T. (2019, May 25). How social media has changed politics. Thought Co. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-social-media-has-changed-politics-3367534
Washington Post. (2021) “Nigeria suspends Twitter after the social media platform freezes president’s account”. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 June 2021.