Mark Zuckerberg had proudly announced crossing the 1 billion Facebook users milestone in September 2012.
With every Tom, Dick and Harry today having a Facebook account, this does indeed sound believable.
We all know that this is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world (or, should I say, THE most popular site?) which has the young and the old, students and executives, globetrotting CEOs and housewives- all hooked!
So much so that anyone who does not have a Facebook account these days is considered so ‘unhappening’! Since Facebook obsession is now becoming a national pastime, it is bound to have an effect on the decisions we are taking.
It influences not just routine decisions like which shampoo to buy, which pictures to like or the choice of portal for online shopping. It has the potency to affect some of our major decisions today.
Is Facebook Replacing Newspapers?
There was a time when most of us would reach for the newspaper soon after getting up in the morning, to know about the going-ons in the world around us. But most of us today probably check our friends’ Facebook statuses (some over-enthusiasts do it the moment they open their eyes) before we can lay our hand on the newspaper.
I remember not missing the English news bulletin at Doordarshan called “The News at Ten” for anything in the world when I was in school or college. How many of you watch the news at TV regularly and as religiously as you used to, say, 10 years back?
This is probably because we are now leading much busier and hectic lives as compared to yesteryear’s but also because our exposure to online media has lessened our dependence upon the news media for staying abreast with the latest developments.
The Role of Facebook in Influencing Our Decisions
No matter how busy your 19 year old is with his exam preparations or how hard-pressed a housewife is for time, all of them make it a point to check out their Facebook account 1-2 times a day!
A survey titled “Social Media and Lok Sabha Elections 2014” conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) recently placed all 543 Lok Sabha constituencies into 3 categories- High, Medium & Low, depending upon the impact social media (particularly Facebook) is likely to have on the decision making ability of the people in these constituencies in the upcoming 2014 general elections.
Degree of Impact
|Number of Constituencies|
The survey drew our attention to the fact that 160 out of 543 Lok Sabha constituencies are “High Impact” constituencies for the upcoming 2014 general elections. Social media, particularly Facebook, is likely to have a strong influence e on the outcome of the result in these constituencies.
Constituencies where social media is likely to have a significant effect on the outcome of elections were listed as “High Impact” constituencies, while those where voter decision might be influenced by social media to some extent were listed as “Medium Impact” constituencies. All the remaining were identified as “Low Impact” or “No Impact” constituencies.
High impact constituencies are those where the number of active Facebook users is more than the victory margin in the last Lok Sabha election or more than 10% of the population is active over social networking sites. Maharashtra (21) has the maximum number of High Impact constituencies followed by Gujarat (17).
All those who have been following the news regularly would know that Narendra Modi used Facebook to launch a tirade against his detractors and to strengthen his fan base in the state of Gujarat. And need we add that the policy has paid him rich dividends? His Facebook fan pages got millions of LIKEs within no time, showing that the populace loved him!
Over the last few months, Facebook also played a significant role in mobilizing public opinion at the time of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign and garnering support for the Lokpal bill, the Nirbhaya brutal gang rape case and the recent rape of the 5 year old in Delhi.
With this popular networking site getting more popular every passing day we have every reason to believe that it can have a major impact on voter behavior and rationale in the coming elections.
The leaders who are quick to realize that they can use it to their advantage will, undoubtedly, have an edge over those who prefer to stick to the age old methods of campaigning (read blaring loudspeakers and posters all over the constituency).
Will Facebook impact 2014 general elections? Share with us.