ABSTRACT: The study basically examined the influence of Twitter and Youtube as political communication platforms in Nigeria. The study was anchored on Technological Determinism Theory. They offer platforms for political debates, political campaigns, and political mobilization. A cross-sectional survey research method was adopted in which data were collected among Lagosians using a questionnaire. Four hundred (400) questionnaires were distributed, out of which, three hundred and sixty (360) copies were retrieved and analyzed. Findings show that many of the respondents maintained that, they participated in the 2023 elections while they also search and participated in political debates and discussions on social media before, during, and after the election with many serving as voters during the 2023 elections. In the same vein, social networking usage during the election was very high for the first time in Nigeria’s political history, no wonder many submitted that their participation in the election was a result of online discussion platforms such as Twitter. Similarly, lots of respondents were busy reading and commenting on political matters during the 2023 electioneering period, they also, optimistic that the future of social media in elections is very bright in Nigeria and some of the elements that need to correct in the future use of social media for elections include but not limited to “name calling” and “posting of unverified information or result during the election”. It is recommended that social media should be improved to enhance better public mobilization, sensitization, and true democracy in Nigeria through citizen sensitization programmes.
Keywords: POLITICAL COMMUNICATION
1.1 Background to the Study
In the current digital age, social media has revolutionized political communication. Twitter and YouTube, in particular, have emerged as influential platforms for political communication, activism, and organizing. The two platforms have become vital tools for politicians, journalists, and activists to engage with their audience and disseminate political messages. This study examines the influence of Twitter and YouTube as political communication platforms, analyzing their strengths and limitations, and their impact on political discourse (Chadwick, 2017).
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows users to share short messages, known as tweets. Politicians, political parties, and governments have embraced Twitter as a tool for political communication, engagement, and mobilization. Twitter has become an essential tool for political campaigns and a platform for real-time reactions to political events (Chadwick, 2017).
One of the strengths of Twitter as a political communication platform is its ability to reach a large audience quickly. Twitter users can quickly share information, news, and opinions, leading to the rapid dissemination of information. Political actors use Twitter to mobilize their supporters and disseminate their messages widely, cutting across geographical and temporal barriers (Stanko, 2013).
Another strength of Twitter as a political communication platform is its interactivity. Twitter allows politicians to interact with their constituents, respond to their concerns, and gather feedback. Politicians use Twitter to solicit opinions, engage in dialogue, and build relationships with their followers. Twitter also allows politicians to gauge public opinion and respond in real time to shifting political sentiments (Stanko, 2013).
However, Twitter also has limitations as a political communication platform. One limitation is the brevity of tweets, which can lead to oversimplification and lack of nuance. The platform’s short message format can lead to the dissemination of incomplete or misleading information, particularly during politically charged moments.
On the other hand, YouTube is a video-sharing platform that allows users to upload and watch videos. The platform has become a vital tool for political communication, enabling politicians, activists, and interest groups to reach a wide audience with engaging and informative videos (Tedesco, 2004). One of the strengths of YouTube as a political communication platform is its ability to provide a visual medium for political messages. YouTube enables politicians to create compelling videos that capture their messages, personal stories, and policy proposals. The platform’s visual nature allows for emotional engagement, increasing the likelihood of viewer retention and viral sharing (Sweetser, and Lariscy, 2008).
Equally, the strength of YouTube as a political communication platform is its democratizing potential. YouTube enables individuals and groups without access to traditional media platforms to reach a broad audience and have their voices heard. This makes YouTube an essential tool for political activists, interest groups, and marginalized communities seeking to raise awareness about their causes. It is against this background that this research investigates the influence of Twitter and Youtube as political communication platforms in Nigeria.
1.2 Problem Statement
With the rise of information communication technology (social media), the public domain is growing; information that used to be in the expert domain is becoming publicly available and new mechanisms for public involvement are being explored.
Also, the gross misuse of social media in the just concluded 2015 presidential election in Nigeria calls for urgent attention on how to use social media during elections as unverified election results were tweeted, posted, and shared on Twitter and Youtube respectively.
Nevertheless, Twitter and Youtube offer unique platforms for political education, debate, opinion exchange, dialogue, and modification of opinions among others.
To this end, research determines It is against this background that this research investigates the influence of Twitter and Youtube as political communication platforms in Nigeria with a projection into how new media (social media) platforms can be better utilize for future elections in Nigeria and other Africa countries.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the influence of Twitter and Youtube as political communication platforms in Lagos. The specific objectives are:
- To examine the extent to which politicians in Lagos use Twitter and YouTube as political communication platforms.
- To investigate the effectiveness of political campaigns and mobilizations via Twitter and YouTube among Lagosians.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to explicate the aforementioned objectives, the listed questions provide answers to the research problem:
- To what extent do politicians in Lagos use Twitter and YouTube as political communication platforms?
- How effective are political campaigns and mobilizations on Twitter and YouTube in mobilizing support and shaping the political landscape among Lagosians?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Since social media have emerged as a tool for political communication, only a few of them have ever written on social media in political participation in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Therefore, being a new aspect, the work will benefit individuals, corporate bodies, government, researchers, students, media professionals, political parties, political aspirants, politicians, INEC, and Security operatives among others.
Voters: Individuals/electorate will benefit from this study as they will know the extent to which they can post or share information online particularly how to verify the information before it is “like, comment, repost, share, re-tweet, follow” among, etc.
National Assembly: The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency pass a bill as is been sponsored by the INEC to prevent people from announcing part or all election results without a prior announcement from the INEC due to abuse of the media by so many citizens in the last general election.
Researcher: Future researchers who may what to carry out research in this area or related aspects will find this material very useful and serve as reference material.
Corporate institution: Corporate bodies such as the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, CDHR, and other advocacy bodies will through the research know how best to utilize social media and other information technology to mobilize people on political matters such as winning and mobilizing people for the use of Card Reader during Poll e.t.c
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study investigates the influence of Twitter and Youtube as political communication platforms in Lagos. The scope of this study has been narrowed through the topic itself (Lagosians). The choice of Lagos State is due to its proximity to the researcher, inadequate time, funds, and other logistics. Equally, the belief is that Lagosians are having access to a good internet network. The demographical variables of the respondents were examined before the administration of the research instrument.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Influence: It refers to the impact or contribution of social media (particularly Twitter and Youtube) on voters’ choice of candidate.
Social media: It is a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 which allow the interaction, creation, and posting of political messages and other information such as Twitter and Youtube used to mobilize, inform and sensitize voters in the 2023 general election in Nigeria.
Choice of candidate: This dwells on factors influencing voters’ reasons for voting for a particular candidate or party.
2023 General Election: In this study, it refers to polls to vote for the president, members of the National Assembly, Governors, and State Assembly members in Nigeria.
Youtube.com: is a leading video website, it accommodates podcasting and streaming of video from social, entertainment, and sport to political communication, debates, and news
Twitter: is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. And it was used extensively by politicians, news media, electoral umpires, and electorates.