So­cial me­dia turns po­lit­i­cal bat­tle­ground

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Tsh­er­ing from Thim­phu

As the gen­eral round of the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions ap­proaches, so­cial me­dia has be­come a hotspot for all sorts of po­lit­i­cal de­bates in­clud­ing mud­sling­ing and defam­a­tory com­ments.

Whether it is Twit­ter, Face­book or Wechat, it seems the elec­tions have turned the na­tion’s fo­cus on par­ties and un­der­ly­ing is­sues which are most of­ten bla­tantly dis­cussed on these on­line plat­forms.

The of­fi­cial cam­paign pe­riod for the gen­eral elec­tion has started and the bat­tles are real.

The pop­u­lar Bhutanese News and Fo­rum and Bhutanese Fo­rum on Face­book which has over 163,438 mem­bers up­date minute-by-minute posts on so­cial me­dia.

The up­dates in­clude flaws of party pledges and man­i­festos, praises, opin­ions, polls, pre­dic­tions, choice of par­ties and can­di­dates, video clips, pic­tures, al­le­ga­tions and com­par­ing of man­i­festo and pledges, party and can­di­dates.

A user usu­ally starts a po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ment which es­ca­lates into a list of defam­a­tory com­ments and posts against each other.

The most re­cent and pop­u­lar post on Face­book was about Druk Nyam­rup Tshogpa’s (DNT) pledges of class X cut off point, free wifi and Su­ung-Joen App, pro­vid­ing min­is­ters from east and Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa (DPT)’s past cor­rup­tion, land scam and mis­takes. The users also tar­geted me­dia houses, in­dus­tri­al­ists and other in­di­vid­u­als.

It is ex­pected that as in the ear­lier elec­tions, so­cial me­dia will have a di­rect im­pact on the out­come of the elec­tions this time too. In fact, it al­ready has.

Speak­ing to Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB) Na­tional Me­dia Ar­bi­tra­tor Chador Wangdi said mud­sling­ing on so­cial me­dia has been grow­ing by the day since and be­fore the elec­tions.

“We are con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor­ing and work­ing along with the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB), dzongkhag so­cial me­dia of­fi­cers and Depart­ment of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Tele­com un­der Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion to mon­i­tor such cases,” he said.

Chador Wangdi added that there had been a few re­ports from the dzongkhags and 16 cases of posts on Face­book were for­warded to In­dia to be re­moved or blocked.

DNT Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Phurpa said mud­sling­ing on so­cial me­dia is on rise and ev­ery­day peo­ple post about a party, pres­i­dent or can­di­dates. He also added it is be­com­ing a con­cern on one hand but on other hand it is be­yond one’s con­trol and such mud­sling­ing causes dam­age to one’s im­age.

Rabi C Da­hal, an in­de­pen­dent voter said the ba­sic idea is that one of the ob­jec­tives of ‘win­ning’ (if there re­ally is such a thing) and a so­cial me­dia po­lit­i­cal bat­tle is to marginal­ize the op­po­nent through over­whelm­ing facts or in­sults, gain the sup­port of oth­ers to your cause to iso­late the op­po­nent, and even­tu­ally si­lence the op­po­nent through em­bar­rass­ment, ex­as­per­a­tion, and/or ap­a­thy.

“‘What­ever’ might be the most used end­ing to any po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ment fol­lowed closely by some form of in­sult but what has hap­pened is that an over­whelm­ing num­ber of peo­ple have come to the point of out­right re­fusal to en­gage in the po­lit­i­cal process via so­cial me­dia, largely be­cause of the sheer amount of mud­sling­ing and ha­rass­ment.” He said.

Sonam Phuntsho, a pri­vate em­ployee said when­ever peo­ple browse Face­book nowa­days, one or the post is about DPT or DNT and usu­ally the post is from a fake ac­count.

Pem Dem, a gov­ern­ment em­ployee said she is tired of see­ing wash­ing of dirty linen in pub­lic.

Tashi Tsh­er­ing, an in­de­pen­dent writer said mud­sling­ing on so­cial me­dia is a part of pol­i­tics or cam­paign rhetoric, al­le­ga­tions and base­less ac­cu­sa­tions.

Mean­while, DPT was un­avail­able for com­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.