Social Media, Public Administration and Citizen Engagement #cedem16

Thursday, 19. May 2016

CeDEM – the international Conference for e-Democracy and Open Government – brings together e-democracy, e-participation and open government specialists working in academia, politics, government and business to critically analyse the innovations, issues, ideas and challenges in the networked societies of the digital age. The CeDEM16 will be held from May 18th to May 20th 2016 at the Danube University Krems.

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Social Media, Public Administration and Citizen Engagement

Chair: Fiorella De Cindio

An Examination of Online Electoral Campaigning in Tanzania (Deodatus P. Shayo, Norbert Kersting)

The presentation builds on a PhD project in Tanzania about the online electoral campaigning in the presidental election. Participation can be seen as invited or invented space (which would be a bit of a different connotation between top-down and bottom-up classifications).  Different tools and activities can be classified into directdemocratic, demonstratie, representative, and deliberative (or blended) participation. The global south has advanced some of the social innovations.

In Tanzania, internet users are 11.3 million (2014), while mobile subscription is 34 million out of a 50 million population. In the 2015 Tanzanian election, three out of eight candidates used Facebook.

Candidates who did not have Facebook pages for campaigning received lower votes than those who did not use it, however, this might also relate to bigger parties or other factors.  Also, Facebook is not (yet?) the most important media in Tanzania. In an election in Uganda, they closed the internet on the day of the elections out of fear of negative commenting.

(Related literature: Kersting 2013: Online participation. From invented to invited space. In: IJEG 2013. Basically the paper includes the term “demonstrative participation” into other classifications.)

Social Media in Local Administration: An Empirical Study of Twitter Use in Flood Management (Panom Gunawong and Nantapong Butakhieo)

Flooding is an yearly event in Bangkok. Social media has been studied in the context of disaster management (f.i. Lindsay 2011: The benefits of social media in disaster management: an organizational perspective). Effective flood management needs co-creators sharing information and coordinated collective action. With view to Twitter, the quality of tweet messages in crucial. Trust and value in tweet content can create engagement among users and in the community. To adopt Twitter for flood management a suitable framework for the content is required. The account examined (@BKK_Best) showed more activity in some months. The reply rate was zero, and had less engagement with followers. They adopted Twitter mainly as a one-to-many tool. Future research will focus on a mixed-method approach (interviews) and the integration of Twitter with other social media.

Normalization Versus Equalization Effects of the Internet for Political Parties: Singapore’s General Election 2015 as a Case Study (Tan Tarn How, Tng Ying Hui, Andrew Yeo)

The less press and personal freedom people have, the more attractive the Internet becomes as a safe site for anti-government political expression. Since 2011 a lot of parties started using social media. Normalization theory means that the online world operated the same way as the offline word. In the study, the 5 largest poitical parties and their FB and party websites were examined (2011-2015). The biggest party apparently called social media the “World Wild West” of media (in 2013). Some parties declined re quantitity of postings, some increased. Analyzing activity and usage of FB features, the PAP party was the most active with most followers and most content. Concluding, social media requires monetary investment. The PAP party knew how to use Facebook and the website to its advantage, and digital consultants helped in doing so. The use of social media did not translate into votes. Even though more social media users had made up their minds on whom to vote for later than non-social media users, most had cast a mental note before Nomination day. Social media does have some effect, but whether it translates into votes, it is not yet certain.

Social Media Activism in Post-Euromaidan Ukrainian Politics and Civil Society (Alexander Ronzhyn)

Why is the Ukraine a valuable case? Due to ongoing conflict, a big population size and people actively using social media. The paper analyed 38 FB public pages and 17 FB groups, using Veghs typology of online activism that distinguishes awareness/advocacy, organization/mobilization and action/reaction. Analysis also comprised political affiliation of groups: most were neutral to the government. Some example about the rise of social media for activism in the Ukraine were: The Minister of Emergency Situations Z. Shkiryak resigned after social media oppression. Another case of influence of social media on politics is the LGBT anti-discrimination bill in November 2015. Furthermore, the rise of Facebook political bots shows the importance of social media.


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