2010 Elections .. e-campaigning on Facebook


[10-10-2010 12:00 AM]

Ammon News - By Yasmine Othman and Ayoub Nmour/ Arabic

AMMONNEWS - Jordan, like other countries, did not escape the world fascination in social networking sites such as "Facebook." This election season, such networking sites will undoubtedly play a major role in the campaigning process as they offer a unique mechanism to reach voters, especially among younger voters, that is quite different than traditional methods of campaigning.

Social networking sites such as “Facebook”, “Twitter”, and others, has been gaining growing interest and usage among Jordanians, especially among the youth, and are expected to have major influence on the voter turnout and on the results themselves, as described by the official election spokesperson Samih Ma’aytah, "the use of electronic technology at the election campaign has become a 'global tradition'."

To no surprise, candidates' fan pages and the electronic support "group" pages on Facebook are being widely used among the majority of candidates running for the upcoming parliamentary elections, set for November 9th, 2010; especially as websites and fan pages are becoming campaign battlegrounds for competition between young Jordanians to their tribal loyalty, and collecting as many fans as possible.

Such sites are also becoming the primary venues for campaign advertisement and the strongest links between candidates and their respective constituencies and prospective voters. Social networking sites offer quite a new style of campaigning, offering a more "interactive" means between candidates and voters, rather than merely posting of slogans on street banners, as has been the tradition in previous elections.
 
Experts believe that the popularity of the traditional advertising media such as banners, flyers, brochures and others, will be reduced significantly, given that preference at this stage is leaning more towards electronic media and social networking sites, cell phone text messages, and e-mail. Such preference would be not only be because of the ease of handling and delivering advertisement material to individuals and groups, but also to cut down on the campaign expenses that accompany traditional means of campaigning.

New trends also include setting up private websites for candidates, as did one candidate from the Third District in Amman, who has his own designed website in addition to his "Facebook" page and fan page. The websites get deeper into details of the campaigning strategies, platforms, and promises to their prospective constituencies. Another candidate running in the same district launched his new site, adorned with fancy and dynamic Flash technology.

Other social networking sites include Myspace, Flicker, Hi-5, and others, yet none of these sites compare to the popularity of Facebook in Jordan, especially that they lack Arabic-enabled features.

It is worth mentioning that the success of US President Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election proved to the world that electronic campaigning is a very effective and most influential medium, especially on the grass-roots level.

The success of Obama's e-campaigning has inspired a new "trend" in political lobbying and campaigning, and for promoting their own causes and reaching a much wider - potentially global - audience.




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