Political Opinion landscape of India on Twitter — can be tailor made, created by a few pressure Groups or by a political party which has invested big time and money to strategically develop it.
“Half of political tweets came from Just 100 accounts. Thus half of the effort to make Political Opinion came from just 100 Twitter users.”
In a recent Ipsos Reid study conducted in some province of Canada, it was found that 47% of all tweets about the province’s four political parties are from the same 100 accounts. Yes these 100 accounts were making, driving and guiding the said election’s political opinion on Twitter.
What the study recommends? Beware of what you hear on Twitter about Political Opinions. “Quite obviously, Twitter is not an environment reflective of overall public opinion,” said Kyle Braid, a vice-president at the polling company. The study methodology excluded tweets directly from official political parties’ accounts, but that’s still not enough to accurately gauge public opinion, according to University of B.C. professor Paul Quirk.
The study may be related to some election in Canada. But still it’s relevant, as it throws light on how political opinions are made on Twitter.
Take India for instance. Many newspapers and Television news channels are reporting Twitter political trends in their front page and prime time spots. They are not only reporting them, they are literally treating the political opinion on Twitter as God’s word. The reality can be completely different.
For instance, Gujarat Chief minister Mr. Narendra Modi can be a God on Twitter, But does he hold the same status in reality? Is he the God for everyone in India? What about a person from Bihar, Karnataka or UP? Does everyone see him as Savior of India?
To Answer these questions, we have to fully understand who are the ones making the political opinion on Twitter. Who are the ones who are retweeting (spreading) those tweets.
It’s important, as what the India has been witnessing as whole India’s political opinion on twitter can be a political opinion of a single party, which is highly narrow and tailor-made. Or in simple words — an example of perfect social media (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Youtube etc.) campaign.
How To spot a tailor made political opinion from the one which is more palatable:
If you’re also among those citizens and Twitter users who find the political opinion on Twitter, quite derogatory, highly biased, far from reflecting the real politics; then below are the methods you can use to determine whether the political opinion you are witnessing on Twitter is real or is the result of some brilliant marketing:
1) Know the political Opinion makers on Twitter: The best way to know about something, is to increase one’s information about that thing. Whenever you find some unpalatable political opinion on Twitter, try to trace, from where it’s coming. That is who started it and who supported it. Over time you will see a clear connection between political opinions and pressure groups (Twitter user and supporters) who support and spread it.
2) Observe the times, the most active political opinion makers on Twitter, remain silent: One of the best ways to determine the political views of a person, is to see on which politcal topics, he/she remains silent. For example, a Twitter user vociferously shouting for Kasab’s or Afjalguru’s hanging, may choose to remain silent on the Bhullar’s death sentence. Or a Twitter user tweeting all day in support of ” CBI inquiry on the Robert-Wadra-DLF issue” may vanish from Twitter when “Nitin Gadkari’s issue comes to spot light”.
3) The Key demography from where the political Opinion is coming: Age is important while observing a political opinion. For instance, an age group of 18-24 years may endorse an extreme political opinion. But the same can’t be said of higher age groups. If a political Tweet appears to be quite limited in its acceptance and extreme in its views, research a little about the age group behind it. The findings of the above study is in conformance with earlier studies, revealing that young people twice or three times more likely to be on Twitter as the older generation.
Hence what you believed to be a political opinion of India, may be that of some pressure group on Twitter, made up of 20 year olds.
4) Segment from where a Tweet comes and is getting support: God made the men equal, but they differentiated them from one another by accessories — like money, education, affluence etc. This difference is the reason why people have different view points, including political ones.
Hence before reacting to a political tweet, look at the person who created it and who endorses it. For instance, it has been observed that the more a person becomes gadget friendly, OR the higher education the person has, the more he supports majority rule (Hindutva ideology), merit etc. He also becomes anti establishment. It will be surprising to some, but many of the extreme views on Twitter, are created and fueled by Indians sitting comfortably in USA, UK.
Reacting to a Tweet (positively or negatively) in a haste , without understanding its origins, is least desired from any aware individual. Here it’s important to understand that, agreeing with the political opinion on twitter is one thing; finding it worthy of re-tweeting is another. Even if one supports a view, is it good to retweet a Political opinion, when on a close look you find that someone is getting paid for making that political opinion?
It can be a debatable observation (or research), but it has been observed that technology advancement favours Hinduttva (or Dakshin panthi) ideology. Thus a person using internet, having gadgets (smartphones, tablets) , having high modern education, high paying job etc., living abroad can be a supporter of this ideology. This ideology wants the rule of the majority religion in a country. Notably, in the past one decade, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has invested a big time and money to create its voice at Twitter, Facebook, youtube and other social medias. Thus most of the political opinions you hear on Twitter are pro BJP (That’s why, we have not talked about Rahul Gandhi, or Congress in the entire post. Congress and other political parties are literally non-existence on Twitter).
Although there’s nothing wrong in BJP playing to its strength; the very nature of Political Opinion landscape of India is pro BJP. Hence it’s not the political opinion of the entire India. A fact, which if not understood clearly, has the potential to confuse any Indian who has still not made definite political viewpoints.