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Social media has become an essential voice and medium across the world due to its authentic user-generated content. In various countries and nations the media is viewed as the fourth estate due to its major role in briefing the masses on matters of national and international concern. The media plays a big role in shaping the public opinion of its adherers.
The rise of media podiums with social media sites, blogs, and other platforms has increased the role of citizen involvement in political matters. The focus, however, is on social media which plays an important role as a campaign platform as well as a watchdog before, during and after elections. The influence of social media is a great one and organizations that have seen the role social media plays have taken it upon themselves to largely employ this new media approach of using social media to support credible and transparent elections while other organizations such as Cambridge Analytica have taken this as an opportunity to manipulate social media users to a certain way of thinking that benefits their interests.
Rise in the use of mobile phones has contributed to the ease of citizens communicating via social media and increase access to general views on elections.
Objectives: to evaluate the role of social media in shaping opinions of voters into voting in certain patterns. The main area of concern is Cambridge Analytica which is a British company which deals with data mining. It was allegedly used in the 2017 Kenyan election to spread false propaganda against the opposition leader Mr. Raila Odinga and make people view him as a bad and dirty candidate while on the other hand sanitizing the incumbent president Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta.
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
Recent elections in Africa have been highly shaped by social media where candidates create social media accounts where they give daily briefs to their followers. Currently, according to Mediamax organization which deals with data collection in South Africa; 50 out of the 54 African presidents have active twitter accounts. This shows the acceptance of social media in Africa by most governments.
Social media is thereby largely a determinant and has hugely contributed to electoral processes in Africa in recent times. It serves as one of the greatest tools for bloggers and analysts to speculate on the favorite candidate and also for the citizens to have an interaction with the various candidates as well as to make enquiries and express concerns as well, to the various candidates.
The increasing role of social media is therefore seen as gradually exploding into a bigger platform for campaigning and knowing the minds of voters and this is a great opportunity for most parties to structure their campaign styles and structures to suit trends. This has been hugely used in Kenya and Nigeria where the incumbent presidential candidates hired Cambridge Analytica to shape peoples opinion via social media. It is unfortunate that this propaganda spread on social media heavily affect the election outcome.
In order for social media to fulfil its rightful role in elections, the social media data mining companies, bloggers and users need to maintain a high level of professionalism, accuracy and impartiality in their posts and coverage. Regulatory frameworks can help ensure high standards. Laws and regulation should guarantee fundamental freedoms essential to democracy, including freedom of information and expression, as well as participation.
STATEMENT OF RESEARCH STUDY
Social media, emerging as a hottest promotion tool during elections by the political parties to influence, connect and express their vision, objective to help them increase their visibility, or to gain majority. Today people live on social media, where even political parties want to reach out to hit them where they live.
This study seeks to understand the role social media plays in decision making of voters while they vote, explain the effects of social media on African elections and find ways of protecting the integrity of African elections from being interfered on with data mining companies that collaborate with social media platforms.
CHAPTER2: OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER 3: STUDY JUSTIFICATION
Social media played a major role in Kenya’s 2017 general elections which were hotly contested by the incumbent President Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader, Mr. Raila Odinga.
“We have rebranded the entire party twice, written the manifesto, done research, analysis, messaging. I think we wrote all the speeches and we staged the whole thing – so just about every element of this candidate,” Turnbull a managing director for Cambridge Analytica said of his firm’s work for Kenyatta’s political party, known as the National Alliance until 2016, and subsequently as the Jubilee Party.
Cambridge Analtytica deals in data mining, understanding data, triangulating it and making it simpler for clients to understand.
In Kenya, they were working with Jubilee party led by president Kenyatta to help them understand the people likely to vote for Kenyatta, those not likely to vote for him, reasons why they won’t vote for him and how to convert the people not likely to vote for him into his voters.
Methods used by Cambridge Analytica
Following this damning revelation and admission from Cambridge Analyticas managing director, Mr. Turnbull I find it necessary to dig deeper into this allegations and find its impacts on Kenyan elections.
HYPOTHESIS: FACTS AND POLICIES NO LONGER WIN ELECTIONS IN KENYA. MANUPULATION OF DATA, FEAR AND LIES DO.
CHAPTER 4: LITRATURE REVIEW
Voter information in Kenya’s 2017 election news media, political discussion and party campaigns by Peter Alingo and Sebastian Gatimu.;
The primary objective of this post-election survey held in Kenya was to generate data that could provide insight into the views and attitudes of Kenyan voters about their political institutions and the 2017 general election in particular.
Emerging trends in Africa’s electoral processes
Various documentaries on this topic are available on you tube that will help me in my research.
The documentaries have been done by various newsrooms and the ODM party which presented a candidate in the 2017 Kenyan elections.
CHAPTER 5: THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK
Realism insists that relative power is essential to what is achievable in the world.
The main motivation of realists is self-interests and power. They will safeguard their power by all means possible.
This explains why African leaders are going to the extent of hiring data firms to manipulate their followers into voting for them and their selfish interests.
Marxists dwell more on class exploitation where the rich exploit the poor for their own gain. Marx believes that the poor accept this exploitation because they have no choice but they have the power and potential to resist this exploitation.
Marxism theory explains how the Kenyan leaders exploit the voters to make them vote them into office by non-acceptable means. The leaders exploit our way of thinking therefore making us make wrong decisions while voting.
Propaganda and false information spread in social media is a form of constructivism since it constructs us into thinking in a particular way. By profiling certain candidates as bad and murderers and continuously feed the people with such messages constructs a person into believing it even when it’s a lie.
CHAPTER 6: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
I will use cross sectional study design, case studies and reviewing other researches and interviews.
Sites where I will go to conduct my research include; Jubilee party headquarters, ODM party headquarters and the National Bureau of Statistics.
I. Jubilee Party headquarters. I will visit the party headquarters so as to get to interview the party leaders and seek their confirmation if they indeed higherd Cambridge Analytica. If yes I will seek answers as to why they had to do this. If no, I will I want to know if they have sued Cambridge Analytica who claimed to have worked for them.
II. ODM party offices. I will seek to interview the party leader who claimed that he was denied victory due to this illegal use of data by Cambridge Analytica. I would also seek to know the legal measures they have taken against the company as a party.
III. The national bureau of statistics. I would seek to find out the number of Kenyans using social media and also explanations on how they mine their data from Kenyans.
My population will be adults above the age of 18 and those who participated in the 2017 general elections in Kenya. I would want to know if social media affected their way of voting.
SAMPLING PROCEDURE AND SAMPLE SIZE DETERMINATION
I will try interview at least 1000 citizens who are active social media users from each of the 47 counties here in Kenya.
CHAPTER 7: STUDY LIMITATIONS
Being a sensitive matter that may lead to legal battles, I may not be able to get the truth from the people I will interview since they might fear being sued and taken to court for certain admissions made.
In addition, being a political matter where people are driven by self-interests, people will tend to give opinions favorable to their political side; they therefore won’t say their whole truth and would definitely make it a blame game by blaming the opponents.
CHAPTER 8: ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
I will seek to give the people who will aid me in this study assurance that whatever they share with me won’t be used against them in a court of law since it’s only for academic purposes.
Being an issue of concern to the national security I will seek clearance to continue with this study from the security organs.
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