The use of digital media in political campaigns together with the national elections has been growing rapidly worldwide. ICT is being applied in national political campaigning. The use of ICT for participatory purposes in general is seen to be more likely to occur in contexts that are less affected by the issues of the digital divide. Studies on the digital divide highlight the fact that social groups with a lack of financial resources are less likely to have access to and to use ICT, particularly internet-enabled features. Such a constraint on the demand of ICT-enabled forms of interaction affects the diffusion of the use and adoption of ICT for participatory purposes (Hassan 5).
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However, research on the use of ICT in political campaigning has only just begun to investigate the impact on citizen participation in political campaigns that the most recent Web tools such as forums, wiki applications, and social networking services would have. The speedy expansion of the internet has stimulated claims that huge revolutions in the formation of political: the populist assert that the internet will grind down the control of prearranged groups and political leaders, and the community-building assert that the internet will result in the reformation of the nature of society and the basics of social order.
These assertions are important because they deal not only with the presently trendy subject of the internet but also primary questions concerning the fundamental role of communication in community life. Young people are relatively more in tune with new electronic communication systems such as email, Twitter, and Facebook, and for the reason that they are generally open to new things (Anon. “Jay Rosen is wrong” 3).
Online politics and the use of the internet is a facet of democracy and could potentially add pluralism. The transformation of politics or the interaction between politicians and citizens would not be likely to occur. When investigating the array of digital tools that internet users adopt to interact with their candidates, it is clear that there is poor integration between communication occurring within the social network and other digital tools available for the citizen-politician relationship (Anon. “Clay shrike interview on media and politics” 3).
In other words, the average internet user uses it to interact with the candidates, without seeking any other digital means. It has to be specified, however, that this applies only to social network users who do interact somehow with the candidates that they link with. The social network platform is mainly seen as a means to obtain information that is, establishing a one-way relation in which information is retrieved from policy-makers for use by citizens. The use of online media in election campaigns is leading to suppositions concerning the revolution of politics and cyber-democracy. Politicians vying for seats in parliament are more and more using online media (especially Facebook) to publicize information to possible voters and building vibrant, online communities (Scola, 2).
Today’s political parties and candidates realize the benefits of using the internet to conduct online campaigns and raise funds. Voters also are increasingly using the web to access information about parties and candidates, promote political goals, and obtain political news. Generally, the use of the internet is an expensive way for candidates to contact, recruit, and mobilize supporters, as well as disseminate information about their positions on issues.
However, it is now a viable medium for communication political information, and interacting with voters was made clear in the campaigns preceding the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections. According to a Pew Research Centre survey following the 2008 presidential elections, 29% of Americans said that they went online for election news, up from 4% who did so in the 2004 campaign. Nearly seven in ten students went online to watch information on the candidates’ positions from YouTube (“The internet and digital culture” 20).
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Moreover, about 50% of this group claimed that the information they found online affected their voting decisions. A similar analysis in Egypt has forced the government to block the use of Twitter completely. It was found out that, Twitter was being used by political candidates to mobilize citizens in protesting against the rule of Hosni Mubarak. Following the June 2009 Iranian elections, authorities slowed connections to the internet, blocked social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and tampered with SMS services.
In several countries, particularly Egypt, a combination of supervision and careful trial efficiently restricts bloggers and particular minority groups (Weisberg, 5). The message being sent by the state is that you cannot hide in cyberspace. It is a lucid caution to any person in search of the secrecy of cyberspace to voice political censure or articulate alternative lifestyles (Campbell, 664). While national governments are the primary drivers of filtering practices, corporate actors are becoming the main implementers of filtering and packet shaping practices, either as a consequence of the legal requirements of the states in which they are based or of their own accord and reflecting monetary or proprietary concerns.
In the earlier period, advertisers relied on newspapers and television sets to endorse their brands in the bazaar, which was transparent. Alongside these advertisements were direct marketers who traveled with their mailing lists, Coupons, and promotions to persuade potential buyers. Now customers have greater control of the process, they now desire to be treated as independent individuals and not part of the mass market.
Just like retailers and marketers, consumers have the technology; that is computers that have enabled the industry to gather and scrutinize data on consumer shopping patterns. Large retailers such as Wal-mart use advanced technology to customize their products to suit local audiences. Other retailers such as Tesco have come up with loyalty programs that offer a wide variety of benefits to customers in exchange for their personal information.
By doing this, they allow retailers to make their own decisions about the best customers. Retailers can now use special promotions or lower their prices to retain customers. This process is being hastened by the internet and the emergence of online wireless payment technology (Stein, 2). The web has helped retailers to learn about emotional and logical bonds about customers that would persuade them to buy the product and then intermingle with their customers for a long term relationship.
Retailers believe that behavioral targeting and price discrimination are vital tools to deal with the highly competitive online and offline situations in which they find themselves. Opponents of the inclination agonize that it may well put many end users at monetary and even societal disadvantage unless they comprehend what is happening. The shopper’s recompense for presenting (personally special) information and signing in is the opportunity to obtain quick checkout, “special offers” and attention through email. The software companies that market personalization products that use data mining systems for knowledge detection, speak to their prospective clients in a language that makes the benefits of these systems obvious (Donna Anthony and Gandy Oscar, 4).
The marketing industry perceives this to be a good idea for consumers. It helps to differentiate what marketing strategies can use for different groups of people, for instance, coupons for baby products can only be sent to parents with children and not to single males. Consumers can find a variety of what they want from their local stores. The marketing industry claims that clients do not have any trouble in handing over their personal information.
Majority of consumers who use the internet become helpless if their personal information is used illegally. They are ignorant and lack enough knowledge that leaves them open to financial exploitation by retailers. The absence of knowledge puts the consumers at very high risks. The lacks of knowledge signals that the majority of the customers who use the internet are not prepared to deal with the trends that have become facts of life in stores.
Price discrimination is a good example of such trends. Retailers use consumer’s personal information to determine the price to charge for their products. This results in diverse price offer to consumers from different areas. Consumers have become nonopticon. This is a state where consumers are being watched devoid of their knowledge (Vaidhyanathan, 4).
Most consumers admit that they feel vulnerable when their personal information is used by retailers but they do not know what to do about it. However, about 20% do not have a problem with this and they say that what companies know about them won’t hurt them. On the other hand, about 70% disagree with the statement that “privacy policies are easy to understand” (Zimmer, 10). They do not feel safe when websites have information about them. In the face of all these complications, it is startling that about 70% of internet-using customers say that they know what to do to protect themselves from being exploited by online retailers.
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Anon. Jay Rosen is wrong: “Twitter Revolution” and Facebook revolution” Cyber-utopians do think its that simple, 2011. Web.
Campbell, John Edward. Outing planetout: surveillance, gay marketing and internet affinity portals. London: University of Pennsylvania, 2005.
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Donna Anthony and Gandy Oscar H. All that glitters is not Gold. Digging beneath the surface of data mining. Journal of Business Ethics 40:373-386, 2002.
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