Miriam: Social media, not money, will influence 2016 polls

'It is entirely possible that the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections will be determined by social media'

CLAIM YOUR POWER. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago at a campaign rally in 2010. She says there would be less rallies because of the power of social media. Photo from her official Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – “The future of political warfare will take place online.”

Thus predicted Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who believes that social media, and not multi-billion-peso campaign funds, will influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.

“It is entirely possible that the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections will be determined by social media,” Santiago told Assumption College students in Makati City, Monday, March 10.

The senator, who was invited for the school’s Communication Week, said that while some candidates have reportedly hired social media experts to improve their bid in the next national elections, netizens have the power to negate the chances of undeserving candidates through social media.

“The crooked candidates are already hiring professionals to dominate and maybe even control the social media. But such is the power of social media that netizens will be able to beat the candidates with unexplained wealth and their criminal campaign contributors,” she said.

Santiago said that various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have provided a venue where people can “easily and inexpensively” contact each other and share their opinions and experiences.

“Social media therefore lowers traditional socio-economic barriers to commanding the spotlight.  The power of the rich politicians becomes more porous, and the political warlords have less control,” she said.

‘Claim your power’

Santiago said that when she ran for president in 1992, she had no money and had to rely on her tireless young volunteers who tried their best to protect her votes.

But all this has changed with the power demonstrated by social media, which she said would likely reduce the need for campaign rallies and motorcades.

“Today, social media has changed the rules of the game.  Anyone can participate in the extended debate to distinguish the truth from the propaganda of moneyed candidates.  There will be less rallies and motorcades….Such is the power of social media.  Claim it!” she said.

‘Weaponize social media’

The senator also urged the students to “fight back against social evils” through social media.

“Be the tide that will cleanse the Philippines of the corrupt and the useless.  Weaponize social media. Fire up your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram accounts on demanding social change.  You can do this by posting content that does not only inform, but also entertains and motivates,” she said.

Santiago encouraged them to create “memes” against thieves in public service and then “create infographics showing how much embezzled money by government officials could have been used to fund social services and public works.”

“Learn graphic design, videography, and programming language. This way, you will be more equipped in creating riveting content that will arouse, organize, and mobilize the masses,” she said. –  Mia Gonzalez/Rappler.com

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