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Duterte topped chatter in PH’s 1st Twitter polls

If it’s any indication of social media’s growing role in Philippine elections, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte dominated Twitter chatter during the election season, data from the short-message online service revealed.

The speed and volume of tweets during Election Day itself was unprecedented and something that has not been seen in other countries, Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s vice president of media for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, said in an interview with Inquirer.

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Jaitly called the May 9 national and local elections “the Philippines’ first Twitter-election.”

Duterte, whose rivals concede has won the presidency based on quick count results, logged a 40.6-percent dominance in terms of being the most-talked about presidentiable on Twitter from Oct. 12, 2015, up to election day on May 9, Twitter data revealed.

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

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

Quick count results so far, however, show Roxas in second place, Poe in third, Binay fourth and Miriam fifth.

Sheer speed, volume

What Jaitly found significant was not just the content but also the speed and volume of tweets. He noted how ordinary citizens and grassroot movements were driving the conversation forward.

Although advertising executives still proclaimed television as the most powerful election advertising medium, Jaitly believed Twitter and other social media played a unique role in the May 9 elections.

“Television is a key stakeholders but Twitter was the place for breaking news,” he claimed, adding:  “Twitter is where it happens live.”

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

35 million tweets

He said 35 million election-related tweets were posted since the start of 2016. On election day,  4 million tweets were tallied, representing more than 10 percent of all elections-related conversations for this year.

During the three televised presidential debates and two vice presidential debates (official and unofficial), Twitter recorded a combined five million tweets from netizens.

He said ordinary citizens were tweeting and even creating hashtags distinct from those popularized by news organizations, and this could be credited for powering what he called the #TwitterElection.

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

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

TV is still king

Earlier, campaign strategist and former advertising executive Yoly Villanueva-Ong, said studies and surveys had shown that television was still the most powerful medium, followed by radio.

Ong said that despite social media’s wide reach, it could not be relied on as the sole venue for a political campaign. She said “the credibility of social media has yet to be set because people tend to be wary of the parties behind the political content there.”

“Social media by the very name is social in nature, and when there are political movements in that medium, you tend to think there is an army of paid trolls or paid hackers, or even bots,” she said.

But she also noted that people were becoming more aware and wary of paid professional trolls and bots, so it has become harder to create a viral phenomenon.

This may spell continuing growth and maturity for social media.

TOPICS: elections 2016, Ramon H. Royandoyan, Rishi Jaitly, Rodrigo Duterte, Social Media, Twitter, Twitter Elections
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