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How social media is used to influence elections

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Cambridge Analytica played some hidden roles in elections around the world, from the US presidential elections, the UK Brexit referendum, to even the Kenyan general elections. How did they achieve this? It was easy. The marriage of technology and human psychology has produced powerful tool that can reach people, understand their behaviour, and influence them towards a certain goal. Such a goal can be voting.

Suppose we could group all the people into two main political inclinations; the Oranges party, and apples party. Each party is passionate about their fruit, and equally hateful of the other fruit. How would social media be used  to promote each parties agenda?

First, it would be very hard to convert someone from one party to another through social media. The best way to convert people is to use other people. However, social media can be used to poke holes on what you belief, slowly making you a candidate of conversion into the other party.

The first thing is that social media is able to detect which political party you belong to. This would be based on the pages you like, the people you follow, the kind of news you read, and the groups you belong to. If you constantly like news that portray the Oranges party positively and the Apples Party negatively, then most likely you belong to the Oranges Party, and you are likely to vote for the Orange candidate. Google would be able to do the same using similar factors such as the search queries you make, the emails you receive, and the YouTube channels you watch. This is the most useful part of social media.

Once this is achieved, the next thing is to make use of each category of people. For your supporters, this is what you can do:

  • Get them to donate to your party
  • Inspire them to turn out to vote
  • Continue to radicalize them by showing them negative things about your opponents
  • Get them to talk about you everyday, and make them your evangelists.

For people in the opposing party, this is what you can do

  • Show them how absurd their political opinion is
  • Create an impression that they are losing and your party is winning
  • Poke holes into their agenda and their candidates
  • Amplify the scandals made by their candidate.

The above activities present almost everything a party needs to do in order to win elections.  Only that, you can be in a position to do this just using social media. Once you have achieved this, you will also benefit from the positive messages that your users will keep posting. The best thing about radicalizing your followers is that they will drive conversation  about you in their own circles offline, or in WhatsApp groups which you have no access to.

Once your followers are active online, your messages on social media will get more likes and shares, and therefore have a wider reach. You will be able to influence the news cycle, and kill negative stories about you. You will be closer to winning the election.

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