THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN CREATING OF AWARENESS DURING 2015 GENERAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA

(A STUDY OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER)

By

Author

Presented To

Department of Mass Communication

CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
The emergence of the Internet as the new mass medium of the 21st century now 
changes the mass media substantially. Information can be distributed at high speed, 
low cost, and broad scope and as a result, there is egalitarian access to the production 
and the consumption of news (Prat and Strömberg, 2011)
The recent election of Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria has been hailed 
internationally as a historic transfer of power for Africa“s most populous nation with 
social media playing greater role or influenced the fairness of the election. Social 
media with all their flaws had the power of immediacy. They“re also very 
participatory. In an election where you have citizens who are participating, they were 
also providing the news and information surrounding the elections. It was an 
empowerment of people through their votes, and also through their ability to 
disseminate information. That is not to say that traditional media didn“t play a role. 
But the social media role was central. The world is becoming increasingly connected 
via the power of the Internet; Facebook launched internet.org an initiative to gain 
even the most remote parts of society access to the World Wide Web. Political 
movements have begun to see social media as a major organizing and recruiting tool 
and the reverse can be said for society. Social media (done right) gives you all this 
because it“s inherently a two-way communication system. Rather than getting brand 
messages, you get recommendations from friends in the form of re-shares and 
recommended posts, which de-commercializes the brand message.
Social media is that space, the many tools helping to amplify the voices of average 
Nigerians, taking ordinary voice sand making them extraordinary by bringing them to 
homes, offices, and places most of them would have probably never reached under 
different circumstances It started out as a playground for mostly young jobless 
people Today, it has become the battle ground of what would arguably be the most 
competitive election in Nigeria‘s history
The advent of internet and technology has exposed majority of the global population 
to different interactive platforms on which different kind of information is exchanged 
which might significantly have effect on human behavior, decision and judgment 
(CES,2012) Social media are new information network and information technology 
using a form of communication utilizing interactive and user-produced content, and 
interpersonal relationships are created and maintained
According to Eugene, 2015 The popularity of getting political news from social 
media platforms is greatly increasing A 2014 study showed that 62% of web users 
turn to Facebook to find political news This social phenomenon allows for political 
information, true or not, spreading quickly and easily among peer networks 
Furthermore, social media sites are now encouraging political involvement by uniting 
like-minded people, reminding users to vote in elections, and analyzing users“ 
political affiliation data to find cultural similarities and differences As social media 
gains more popularity and scope, its impact on voters‘ political and cultural 
perceptions cannot be underestimated as social media practically influences the way 
users interact, communicate and make decisions on social, cultural, and political 
issues in today‘s world
The social media has become a powerful medium which may affect voting behavior 
because of its potential to provide direct and cheap access to the production and consumption of current information at any part of the world without editorial filtering 
(Sunstein, 2001) Not only do social media provide information about political 
affiliations, candidates and their party manifestoes, it also provides a platform through 
which voters across cultural divides can relate and interact with themselves on issues 
about these candidates Social media can help taint the reputation of political figures 
fairly quickly with information that may or may not be true Information spreads like 
wildfire and before a politician can even get an opportunity to address the 
information, either to confirm, deny, or explain, the public has already formed an 
opinion about the politician based on that information However, when conducted on 
purpose, the spread of information on social media for political means can help 
campaigns immensely Open forums online have also been the root of negative and 
positive effects in the political sphere Some politicians have made the mistake of 
using open forums to try and reach a broader audience and thus more potential voters
What they forgot to account for was that the forums would be open to everyone, 
including those in opposition Having no control the comments being posted, negative 
included, has been damaging for some with unfortunate oversight Additionally, a 
constraint of social media as a tool for public political discourse is that if oppressive 
governments recognize the ability social media has to cause change
Today‘s social media has made the world a ―global village‖, with the quick transfer of 
information overriding the challenges of time and distance (Friedman, 2007) Social 
media has gradually become one of the important means of influencing the society 
and this influence is based exclusively on its social aspects of interaction and 
participation 
Nearly every political party in the country used social media to campaign and advance 
its plans, message and manifestos to supporters including advertising, mobilization and organizing in all the states of the federation, and even fundraising Facebook, 
YouTube and especially Twitter were used to let voters know how each party or 
particular candidate felt about important national issues ranging from security to 
power Hence social media became powerful enough to influence voter decisions and 
choices as many voters who had fixed their minds and conscience on voting a 
particular party or candidate began to change their minds based on certain information 
or idea they got online about the party or candidate Information gotten by a particular 
voter was also not static, as the same voter would use several internet tools and 
buttons to broadcast same message to other voters like him through medium such as 
blogs, Facebook, Nairaland, chat rooms etc in order to influence them
12 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The use of emotional appeals in political campaigns to increase support for a 
candidate or decrease support for a challenger is a widely recognized practice and a 
common element of any campaign strategy (Brader, T 2006) Campaigns often seek 
to instill positive emotions such as zeal and hopefulness about their candidate to 
improve turnout and political activism while seeking to raise fear and anxiety about 
the opposition Zeal tends to reinforce preference for the candidate and party, while 
fear and anxiety interrupt voter behavioral patterns and leads individual voters to look 
for new sources of information on divergent political issues (Marcus et al, 2000) 
Sources of information available to a voter vary widely including the traditional 
media, TV, radio and newspapers However, with the advent of online social media 
forum, most voters can access information, debate on the information and also give 
feedback on his own views, opinions and expectations from the party and candidate 
Although the social media has helped in increasing the awareness about 2015 general 
election Rumors, falsehood, propaganda and derogatory information about individual candidates or parties are commonplace online and spread faster than anticipated, often 
with disastrous outcomes This is largely attributed to the lack of editorial filtering, 
and the anonymity of most online users The internet encourages anonymity of its 
users, which means that those who write and comment often use nicknames or aliases 
This has a huge influence on voter behavior, as most voters who read stories online 
have a tendency to believe such stories without crosschecking facts and take decisions 
based on this propaganda This is a widely known fact among political parties and 
they use it to their advantage in bringing down their opponents
Previous research has found that it is possible to influence a person' attitudes toward a 
political candidate using carefully crafted information about such candidate online, 
which in turn may influence the voter‘s behavior towards the candidate Social media 
can also be used by various parties to propagate false news and propaganda about the 
opposition in order to disfavor such party or candidate in the eyes of the electorates 
while exonerating theirs This has a huge influence on voter behavior as many voters 
make decisions based on such news they read online
Furthermore, social media has made voters privy to any kind of information about 
2015 general election as there are no longer any isolated places or hiding holes The 
private and public lives of society‘s most influential figures including politicians have 
been made public online This is because in today‘s world, once a politician declares 
for a post, his entire life including his educational background, his family, his job and 
any past mistakes or excesses are made public on social media platforms for people to 
comment, discuss and publicly judge Many politicians have been found in 
compromising positions with their words or phrase taken out of context and magnified 
to huge proportions by opposition parties in order to discredit them Many a times, 
people go to the extent of recording private conversations or actions of these candidates and make the recorded audio or video public on various social media 
platforms such as Facebook and Twitter quickly, with a view to elicit response and 
vicious backlash from voters and other online users The belief is that it will go a long 
way in influencing voter‘s behavior and turning such voter against the candidate since 
the voter can now judgmentally make decisions about the candidate based on what he 
said, did or other information about him or her Even though, such information are 
refuted sometimes by the concerned party or individual, it remains valid in the minds 
of many voters who may have made up their mind already or simply are not aware of 
the true situation
13 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will help beam the searchlight on the impact of social media on creating 
awareness to voters during elections as a whole based on the information available by 
Facebook and Twitter It will also enlighten relevant stakeholders such as political 
parties, candidates, and even the civil society on how social media can bring about 
awareness and campaign opportunities if properly utilized
This research study will help stakeholders understand that maintaining a good and 
healthy profile online with a cordial relationship between the party and voters can 
positively influence voter‘s behavior Lastly, this research work will add to the body 
of knowledge on the already existing scholarly materials on the impact of social 
media in creating awareness to the society
14 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study will examine the role of social media in creating awareness with special 
reference to the actual effect of Facebook and Twitter on voter‘s and the factors determining the behavior and attitudes that an ordinary voter adopts based on 
available information gotten on the social media
15 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of the study is to find out the role played by social media in the 2015 general 
election awareness creation Facebook and Twitter Hence the specific objectives are 
as fallow:
1 To find out the role played by social media in creating awareness in 2015 
general election
2 To determine the level of influence social media has on the success of 2015 
general election
3 To find out factors that influence/drive awareness creation of the social media 
during 2015 general election
4 To identify the lesson from the role social media play in 2015 general election
16 RESEARCH QUESTIONS 
1 What are the roles played by social media in creating awareness in the 2015 
general election?
2 To what extend did the social media contribute to the success of the present 
administration in the 2015 general elections?
3 To what extend did politicians employ the social networking sites of Facebook 
and Tweeter in campaign for the 2015 general elections?
4 In what ways do social media need improvement to play major roles in 
elections in Nigeria? 
17 BRIEF METHODOLOGY
The study used survey research design Surveys allow for the study of people‘s 
opinion on a given issue of public interest According to Onwukwe (2011), ―survey 
research is concerned with the collection of data for the purpose of describing and 
interpreting a certain condition, practice, beliefs, attitudes, etc‖ The purpose is 
usually to describe systematically the facts, qualities or characteristics of a given 
population, events, or areas of interest concerning the problem under investigation
18 LITERATURE REVIEW
The use of social media in politics has continued to grow in recent times Since 
Barack Obama broke the world record in the history of social media use for political 
purpose during the 2008 US presidential elections, many nations and politicians 
across the globe have continued to embrace the platform to mobilize their citizens and 
candidates towards active participation in the political process (Okoro and Kenneth, 
2013)
Nigeria had the first real test of social media use for political participation during the 
2011general elections The 2011 general elections offer a unique context and 
opportunity to examine the use of social media in elections, especially the usefulness 
and applicability of social media in the electoral environment Although it seems 
obvious that social media contributed in no small measure to the success of the 2011 
elections, but there are lot of misusage and problems that arise from the social 
networking community It is pertinent to understand specifically how particular 
stakeholders in the 2011 elections, like INEC, politicians/political parties, the 
electorate, and SOs, used the social media during the elections, including INEC, 
politicians/political parties, the electorate, and CSOs
19 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Awareness: Is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, 
thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns
Election: The formal process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or 
rejecting a political proposition by voting
Facebook: Is an online social networking service that enables users to chart share and 
send pictures, and other multimedia items
General Election: Is an election in which all or most members of a given political 
body are chosen (Wikipedia 2015)
Internet: An interconnected group of computer networks allowing for 
electronic communication
Social Media: Are computer mediated tools that allow people to create, share 
or exchange information, ideas and pictures/videos in virtual communities and online 
networks
Social Network: Is structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or 
organizations) and a set of the dyadic ties between these actors
Twitter: Is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read 
short 140-character messages called "tweets"
Case study: Yin (2003) defines a case study as an empirical inquiry that uses multiple 
sources of evidence to investigate a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life 
context, in which the boundaries between the phenomenon
CSO: Civil Organization and Society
INEC: Independent National Electoral Commission NGO: Non-Governmental Organization
110 CONCLUSION
The chapter were able to bring out the whole concept of what the study is all about 
and the main focus that the study is tend to focus and what is intended to learn from 
the basic of the study including of important terms and terminology needed for the 
propose of study

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