Duterte rules Twitter during poll season

This Oct. 18, 2013, file photo shows a Twitter app on an iPhone screen in New York. Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, that it is putting forth 70 million shares in the initial public offering. AP

This Oct. 18, 2013, file photo shows a Twitter app on an iPhone screen in New York. Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, that it is putting forth 70 million shares in the initial public offering. AP

DAYS after Filipinos trooped to polling centers to cast their votes, Twitter data revealed that presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte ruled the Twitter conversation during the election season.

Data from Twitter showed that the long-time Davao City Mayor dominated the chatter within the microblogging site.


Duterte maintained a 40.6-percent dominance in terms of being the most-talked about presidential candidate on Twitter throughout the election season.

According to the social media giant, the data was collated from Oct 12, 2015 to May 9, 2016. This was seven months since the start of the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October.


The percentage refers to the number of times the presidential candidates were mentioned in tweets. Despite this, the social networking site did not provide exact figure of Twitter mentions.

Trailing Duterte was Vice President Jejomar Binay (23.45 percent) and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas (18.95 percent). Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago trailed with a share of 10.9 percent of the mentions and Senator Grace Poe stayed at the cellars with 6.6 percent.

“I do think Twitter is a reflection of society,” Rishi Jaitly told the Inquirer in an interview. He is Twitter’s Vice President of Media for the Asia Pacific and Middle East.

The executive noted that Twitter was the go-to place for election-related conversation for netizens.

“Twitter was the depot place for conversation,” he said. “I think we’re a reflection of Pinoy’s interest.”

Twitter noted that 35 million election-related tweets were posted since the start of 2016. On May 9, the social media giant tallied 4 million tweets when Filipinos trooped to polling centers to cast their votes.

Why is this significant? The 4 million tweets recorded on May 9 accounted for more than 10 percent of all election-related conversations for this year alone.


Notably during the three televised presidential debates and two vice-presidential debates, Twitter recorded a combined five million tweets from netizens.

Despite broadcast media maintaining a foothold on breaking news, Jaitly noted that for this election, Twitter had a big role.

“Televisions are key stakeholders but Twitter was the place for breaking news,” he said. “Twitter is where it happens live.”

In addition to this, Twitter considers the presidential polls as the Philippines’ first ‘Twitter-election.’

“This is not something we’ve seen in other countries,” he said. On Twitter, conversation about the presidential polls surged at 7:30 p.m. when 5,600 tweets per minute were sent out. This was due to Comelec releasing the first wave of partial and unofficial results of the polls.

This is significant because, as Jaitly puts it, it’s an election where they witnessed grassroots movements driving the conversation forward.

He said that ordinary citizens tweeting and even creating hashtags – not those popularized by news organizations – could be credited for powering what he calls the #TwitterElection.

“Twitter is the first place Filipinos go to find out what’s happening on the campaign trail as well as to see diverse conversations about the political candidates and election issues,” said Jaitly.

Remember the emojis of presidential candidates that were introduced in the middle of the campaign season? Jaitly noted that it is a good reminder of the bottom-up movement exerting its influence over Twitter.

“The bottom-up movement is driven by real personalities; it’s defining the Twitter election,” said Jaitly.

On whether he thought Twitter was a good barometer of who wins these presidential elections, Jaitly said he “just leave it to others to decide on Twitter.”

Even though social media’s role is still wanting of acknowledgement, the executive said that their company gave Filipino voters an idea to strive for.

“The Twitter Election in the Philippines was able to open doors for opportunity, transparency, openness, and equity,” he said.

The social media giant considers the Philippines as one of its fastest growing markets./rga

TOPICS: elections 2016, infotech, News, Rodrigo Duterte, Twitter
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