It might seem like politicians have been campaigning for months but we’re finally nearly at the finish line and the general election is just around the corner. Politics has long been associated with PR, spin doctors, a bit of crisis management and the occasional (or perhaps far too frequent) scandal. In addition to the TV interviews, leaders’ debates, posters and pamphlets, this year social media is expected to play a bigger part in the political campaign than ever before.
Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of other platforms have continued to infiltrate our daily lives, driving politicians to scramble for our attention in new and interesting ways. Many argue that social media makes the whole political process far more democratic, allowing everyone the chance to interact with politicians online, giving smaller parties access to a wider audience and spreading breaking news like wild fire. It also introduces you to a wider array of voices and opinions which could influence your vote.
It’s being touted as the UK’s first ‘hashtag election’, with parties creating paid-for social ads and YouTube videos to help them engage with different audiences and get their message across.
But it’s not all fun and games online, if politicians think the House of Commons gets nasty, they haven’t seen anything yet. Being on social media puts your life on display and makes you vulnerable to trolls, abusive comments and a lot of different opinions. It goes way beyond an open conversation or a civilised debate and people are just waiting for you to trip up.
Here are some of our favourite things that social media has produced during the 2015 election so far:
1. The Tories on YouTube
We live in a free society, but how do you prevent people trying to disrupt the political process with freedom of speech? During the 2015 campaign, the Tories have been criticised for disabling the ‘comments’ section on their YouTube videos and preventing viewers from disliking their ads.
2. Is Natalie Bennett wearing a Jaffa Cake?
3. People keep correcting spelling errors on UKIP election leaflets.
4. Labour and Tory candidates’ billboards go up in the wrong place