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Davao takes the #PHvote challenge using social media


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Davao takes the #PHvote challenge using social media
Election forum "#PHVoteChallenge: Davao's #TheLeaderIWant emphasizes the power of social media to empower the Filipino youth in choosing the leaders the country deserves

MANILA, Philippines – The election forum organized by MovePH and the Philippine Women’s College of Davao (PWC) in Davao City on Friday, October 23, emphasized the power of social media to empower the Filipino youth in choosing the leaders the country deserves.

“I want you to know how much power you have…and to use it to do as much good as you can,” Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa said in the forum dubbed “#PHVote Challenge: Davao’s #TheLeaderIWant.

The presentation started with her drawing attention to the online influence that any organization can build, regardless of its intention.

For instance, Ressa cited the ability of terrorist organizations like ISIS, which exploits social media and Twitter hashtags as a means of targeting young people throughout the world. 

“ISIS posts 200,000 pieces of social media content every day…they are some of the most effective users of social media.”

However, to contrast this, she highlighted the social good that can emerge when these online outlets – Facebook, Twitter, et cetera – are used to counter such forces of evil and hate.

She cited how community members of #AlDub, which Twitter Asia-Pacific Vice President Rishi Jaitly called ‘a global phenomenon,’ began to tweet earlier in the day that it’s time to fight ISIS’ posts with love. 

“In a single 24-hour period, there were 26 million tweets that used the hashtag #AlDub.”

The fun duo of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza known as #AlDub has a massive online community that consistently pushes #AlDub-themed hashtags to the top of Twitter trend charts.

She also cited how the most influential accounts during the #SaveMaryJane campaign, which successfully lobbied the Indonesian government to stay the execution of a Filipina, were not those of official news outlets, but accounts of ordinary netizens here and abroad. (READ: How the viral petition to save Mary Jane Veloso reached Jokowi)

“Just because you don’t have a lot of followers, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of power,” Ressa said.

Ressa then proceeded to demonstrate the enormous effect that Rappler’s disaster information platform Agos had on helping save lives. Agos allows people to post warnings and requests for rescue and relief. (READ: Calls for help in Central Luzon surge)

“Our role as journalists is to give communities the information they need to become communities of action,” Ressa said.

With the 2016 elections looming on the horizon, Ressa stressed the important role social media will play next year. 

“These will be the first social media elections,” she said. “And these elections will change our lives. It may not seem that way, but they will.” 

Voters – 40% of whom are young people – are now widely connected because of technology, the Internet, and social media. This is the power each voter holds in his or her hand, and it can determine the outcome of the elections, Ressa suggested.

Change in behavior 

Ressa also emphasized the extent to which social media can affect behavior. She cited how traditional media only results in 14% of information being retained, unlike the 94% retainment rate when something is posted on social media.

When one student aired her frustration with the political process during the open forum afterwards, Ressa responded with a reminder of the importance of exercising the right to vote.

“You can change the way we elect leaders. You can actually work for #TheLeaderIWant … When you opt out, you let someone else determine where your life is going to go.”

Ressa ended her presentation with a challenge to all young people in the country.

“Let’s take Al Dub and move it into elections. Go to #PHVote.” (Visit #PHVote, Rappler’s election microsite)

The event aimed to engage voters to get their sentiments on issues they want to raise in the upcoming elections. Below were the highlights of the forum in tweets and photos: 

In May 2015, Rappler launched #PHVote: The Leader I Want, the theme of our 2016 elections coverage.

About 54 million Filipinos will vote for at least 18,000 officials from president to councilors in May 2016. – with a report from Lorenzo Benitez/Rappler.com

Take the PHVote Challenge today. You can also share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #PHVote and #TheLeaderIWant.

Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.

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