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Last Updated : Jun 13, 2019 04:23 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Influence of social media during elections might have been exaggerated: Study

Most voters said their main source of political news was TV, followed by newspapers. Only three percent said their main source was social media

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The role of social media in influencing the choice of voters during the Lok Sabha polls might have been exaggerated, according to a study published by Lokniti-Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

The survey also reportedly found that the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) vote share lead over Congress among users of social media was lower than in 2014. While the BJP is known for using social media — particularly Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook — to reach out to both its party workers and voters, the Congress' social media outreach is considered to be comparatively lower.

The survey studied the impact of two key issues this election— the Balakot airstrike and Congress' flagship Nyay scheme— on social media users.

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"Knowledge about the Balakot airstrikes was very high across all sections but the gap between users and non-users of social media was found to be more than 20 percentage points," the study states.

"One in every two voters who were not using any of the social media apps could never know about the NYAY scheme," the survey has stated.

Similarly, awareness regarding the slogans used by both major parties during the campaigning period — such as "Main Bhi Chowkidar" (BJP) and "Chowkidar Chor Hai" (Congress) — was above 80 percent among those using social media. Awareness about the slogans was only about 50 percent among those with no exposure to social media.

According to the analysis, it found that higher the exposure of a voter to social media, more likely they are to support the BJP.

"But BJP also got a high proportion of votes (36 percent) among those not exposed to social media who form two-thirds of the electorate," the survey noted, adding that the Congress also did better among voters having higher exposure to social media than those who did not.

According to the survey, most voters said their main source of political news was television, followed by newspapers. The survey states that only three percent said their main source was social media.

Additionally, of the 49 percent who said their main source of news was television, 37 percent voted for the BJP.

"I think this study will surprise many because this is not a sample of urban voters. This is a national sample," CSDS director Sanjay Kumar said at the report’s launch.

A total of 24,236 voters were interviewed in 211 parliamentary constituencies. The survey was conducted in April-May of 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2014.

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First Published on Jun 13, 2019 04:23 pm
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