How Antisocial Social Media Is Being Used in Political Campaigns
Social media platforms such as Facebook are reporting constant growth despite being a subject of continuous opposition. We are in the digital era where nearly everyone owns a computer or a smartphone. These devices can be used to access the most popular social media platforms. However, as much as social media is fun, it can, at times, make you do things without your consent.
Social media platforms have been turned into a political campaign medium, with politicians taking advantage of the massive number of users to express their interests. As they say, politics is a game of who is better than whom. Politics can easily create enmity and misunderstanding among individuals who do not understand the game to know that it is merely a matter of getting rivals out of the way, but that is as far as it can go.
The tricks that politicians have been using to get this done is antisocial social media.
What is antisocial media, you ask? Like social media, antisocial media is an online community, but in this case, the platform focuses on proving why certain people are not fit or why they are enemies. With this, it is evident why politicians use this strategy to show people why they should vote for them and why their competitors are not fit for the seat.
The politicians use a range of tricks to reach people, which include:
- Personalized private messages on Messenger
- Spam emails to as many recipients as possible
- Dedicated Whatsapp groups for political discussions
To Facebook, politics is just like any other marketing campaigns, and it comes with both perks and challenges. The main problem comes in determining how to sell or market a particular candidate without making the other one look bad. Campaigners must come up with a plan that will grab people's attention by sending customized messages for each individual. Facebook makes it easier for the campaigners since it can easily target and persuade the targets.
Who needs to create a different campaign platform when they can whisper customized messages to each voter, telling them exactly what they want to hear? These messages are designed around the candidates' interests and taste to make them shine and make their competitors the wrong choice for voters.
Donald Trump, for example, used this channel to mobilize and gather voters effectively. He is the perfect definition of Facebook culture through the use of temperament and sheer force personality. It is like Facebook was designed for him, and he was created for Facebook.
There was also a time when the white supremacist groups applied the channel to manipulate the public sphere. They did so by testing out some messages before officially launching them on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The news reached a bigger mass, and the mainstream media began to report on them. Facebook promoted the campaign by amplifying them to ensure they got to as many people as possible.
One thing about Facebook is that it values all content based on how much engagement it gets. It is never about the truth or what's right. As long as posts get high engagement, you can be sure that Facebook will applaud them.
Politicians are taking advantage of this feature to spread hateful information. Facebook is an influential platform worldwide, and it will not miss a chance to reach the largest audience. Take an example of Indian and Philippine elections. Facebook played a massive role in coaching the campaigns. The same applies to Cambodia, where Hun Sen used the Free Basics feature on Facebook to attack his opponents, and Facebook could not do anything to show it was against that.
Facebook has given authoritarian leaders and national movements the go-ahead to raise their sentiments and even organize for violent demonstrations against their enemies. You cannot exactly say that this platform favors hatred, but there is nothing they can do to stop it because, in the end, people have the right to expression.
How Do You Protect Yourself From Antisocial Media
The campaigners will do everything they can to reach as many people as possible. They will gather as many profiles to send personalized messages and convince them why they need to vote for certain politicians and why their running mates are not the best choice.
You can protect your computer from getting such messages by merely using anti-malware software. With this, the software will detect such messages and mark them as spam. This will protect you from getting messages from malicious people which could lead to your computer getting hacked.
The other effective way to protect yourself is to clean up your junk files and folders as they create a loophole for hackers and spammers to get your email and personal information, which will then be used during the campaigns.
According to a book written by Vaidhyanathan, it is evident that Facebook has already turned to a leviathan, and the best way to tame it is by using a stronger leviathan. The best place to begin is by data protection and competition law.
You should, however, take your time to understand the different types of malware and what they do before embarking on protection. This is the only way you can keep your private data away from political interests by coming up with a strategy and solution to stay away from antisocial media. This will also hinder them from accessing your phone number, thus saving you from being added to political WhatsApp groups.