London: A new Oxford university study
shows that methods of electioneering and political reporting
during the recent general elections in Britain have changed
for good because of Facebook and Twitter.
The study`s findings have some implications for India
where politicians increasingly use Twitter to post their
messages that are then picked up by journalists to use in
their political reporting.
It concludes that lessons were learned by journalists
and politicians on how to harness the power of social
networking sites, which contributed to `unprecedented levels
of participation` and voter turnout at the May 6 election,
particularly among voters aged between 18-24 years old.
The study, published by Oxford University`s
Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), reveals how
social media websites were used by more than 200 18-24 year
olds during the week of the UK election.
An online survey, conducted for RISJ, shows that
nearly all of the 18-24 year olds used Facebook during the
election period and engaged in `extremely high` levels of
activity, using social media to discover and share content,
discuss the election, or join Facebook groups and polls.
The poll, conducted 3-8 May 2010, sought to indicate
trends and does not claim to be statistically representative.
However, the study reflects the findings of a
nationwide survey in which a quarter of 18-24 year olds said
they had used social networks to comment on the general
election, and 81 per cent of them expressed an interest in the
The survey also suggests that this age group
generally consumes most of their political information online.
Online news sources may be at the expense of
newspapers and broadcasters, but the study says traditional
forms of media have `normalised` their use of social media,
both as source material and to extend their own service.
Newspaper and broadcast news websites are providing
live blogs, digital correspondents, republication and
retransmission, which has `helped to amplify the impact of
social media even further`, says the study.
The success of a targeted campaign by the Electoral
Commission to increase registration is also highlighted.
The study says after a social media tie-in with
Facebook and ads on TV and radio, half a million people used
the registration form on the Electoral Commission website,
almost half of them aged between 18-24 years old.