The Politics of Comment, Like and Share

Categories Featured, Founder Column
Original Article: Politik Komen, Like Dan Share By: Zuhra Sofyan

If social media such as Facebook and Twitter were not as popular as it is now, would Trump or Jokowi win the election in their countries?

Of course whatever the answer to this question, whether yes or no, is debatable. However, it is hard to deny that social media has transformed the way we receive information and in a very special sphere, it can affect the political choices of its users.

Take a look at how Donald Trump who was not supposed to win a presidential election in America, then he eventually can surpass not only in the party level but also defeat Democratic candidate Hillary, who was considered to be the winner of American election easily, if we only refer to the poll of US survey institutions.

In fact, Trump’s victory would not be surprising if we looked at the statistics of social media activities involving both candidates. In short, the growth of both candidates followers during the campaign period was clearly on the side of Trump, as well as how engagement mentions involving the “Trump” keyword overpowered the social media over his rival. From the results of social media analysis, it is easy to predict the victory of Donald Trump just like the result of analysis of media consultant 4C Insights1)

Trump is the personification of a businessman who knows how to apply his entrepreneurial knowledge to win real battles through cyberspace. With more and more of his name in social media, it means that the number of people who at least know about Trump and the agenda he carries out has increased. No matter whether the news spread in social media is positive or negative, what he wants to achieve is merely a public exposition. For Trump, “any news is a good news”. This is where the role of his digital campaign team and its die-hard followers will work. How to cultivate this exposition into issues that can bring positive value to the Trump campaign. In contrast, the conventional campaign by Hillary, proved to be less popular, even as she realized it later, by starting up social media content and doing things ranging from eccentric to sympathetic to increase her fame in the eyes of voters, it is too late and considered as a desperate attempt by societies.

Similar thing which was done by Jokowi earlier in the presidential election of Indonesia in 2014. With specific reason, Jokowi’s campaign team hired Adryan Fitra, an Acehnese Internet marketing expert whose track record has been worldwide, he even once was hired in Obama’s winning campaign mission. In fact, he was initially approached by the winning campaign team of Prabowo, who eventually declined to use his services, then he was the man who was responsible for the digital campaign of Jokowi. With a well-structured organization, his buzzers can gain more exposition and deliberate some issues to enhance the electivity of the couples, while fending off the negative issues that flourish in social media. The author himself was able to observe how quick the response of paid social media users in responding viral issues in electronic media and social media to counter the bad news about Jokowi, which influenced public opinion about Jokowi, especially among the swing voters who still hesitate to make choices.

As an illustration, internet users in Indonesia are about 132.7 million of 256.2 million people. From this number of users, about 71.6 million are accessing Facebook2) Within diverse backgrounds ranging from housewives to entrepreneurs, so the use of social media as a support platform is like a fertile soil.

The amount of exposition on an issue will result in the formation of opinion on each individual. By receiving the exposition of news that appears many times through the Facebook timeline, (considered as Indonesian’s favourite social media), can cause stigmatize its users’ thought regarding to an issue. This is exacerbated by Facebook algorithm which tends to show more on the issues which is in accordance to the pattern of each user’s reading. By continuously accepting posts with genres and directing the same conclusions from different sources on facebook timeline, it’s hard for the Facebook user to get out of this mindset. Moreover Facebook timelines are designed to be enjoyed casually, making it more difficult for us to consciously filter and analyze the source and what self-interests is brought by the newscaster. As the result, critical thinking is hard to be developed, because they received the same kind of news dragged down to a similar conclusion which is massively and repeatedly displayed so that it is ultimately accepted as a truth. This issue has been realized by social media consultants and has been cleverly utilized for the benefit of many stakeholders, especially politicians who are aware of the potential.

Fortunately, with of a large number of users on social media, there is a positive impact that can be gained with the rise of vigilantes of social media who also present as the antithesis of organized buzzer power. It can be a kind of social control that will not obey the politicians themselves. With only a mobile phone camera, a netizen can complain of a black campaign by a leader candidate in an election event for example, if the issue is sensitive, it is easy to make it viral in social media and will force the candidate to clarify it via press conference and in the future the candidate will be more careful in making public statements in order not to become public chatter. It can be said that sporadic opposition in social media also has the potential to be a guider for the behavior of politicians who had previously escaped from the control of their opponents.

Of course, this individual control is also easily twisted by the culprits only for the sake of their interests, and we as social media users eventually are becoming like Ouroboros, a snake that swallows its own tail. We were trapped and could not get out of the opinion that we accidentally created in our social media timeline that we regularly visited.

The time has come that we should use social media wisely while continue to challenge ourselves to always be critical in making a conclusion. Especially in concerning the important issues, such as politics. As the name suggests, social media is designed as a collective platform to communicate with many people. If we consider what’s in it is only one dimension, then the other broad dimensions, which we can examine more deeply before taking a stand, become overlooked. What we share may be the truth for our followers in social media, and it also can be complicated because the price of our political choice is very expensive compared to a share, a like, or an “amen” word.

Translated by : Tiara Ulfah (Ar-Raniry English Club)
Dated : January, 8th 2017
Original article link :

Tiara Ulfah


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