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The Use of It in the Us Elections

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Introduction: The use of IT and social media was the differentiating factor in the US politics, which catapulted Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney and has secured Obama’s second term as the President of the United States. For a long time, traditional social media has been the medium of communication of ideas in politics. Dating back to the 1950s, shrewdly assembled team of social media experts would have designed and crafted political campaigns that appealed and rallied the emotional side of supporters. Most of the occasions, contesting candidates would have carefully selected controversial policies that the majority were against, to garner support by invoking them to think that dethroning the current office would be “changing for the better”. Social Media experts would then exaggerate these feelings of unrest and protest in the undecided voters by publishing contents that citizens feel that are controversial. The reigning party would also, with the help of traditional social media, attempt to strengthen their foothold in the office by reinforcing the pathetic few policies that they have implemented during their term. Traditional social media has indeed played a pivotal role in all political elections all around the globe. However, with the ubiquity of smartphones and personal computers, coupled with a massive surge of online social platforms, the pivotal change of politics seem to lie in the hands of the party who knows how to play the game of IT. There have been numerous cases of cunning New Media ploys which parties have attempted in order to swing votes in their favour. In this critical, yet informative and engaging report, we aim to unveil the evil doings behind the subtle use of IT and new media platforms to propagate the masses of the 21st century citizens, thereby showing that IT has indeed and will increasingly affect the outcome of political decisions.

Body of Contents:
1. Getting the message across through interactive mediums (1-2 para)

The utilization of the numerous New Media platforms helped disguised propagating and influential announcements into friendly and harmless “updates” about the presidential candidates, which Obama ruthlessly used to swing votes into his favour. For instance, Obama frequently updates his facebook fanpage in order to make his politcal posts appear regularly on the page of “Most recent stories” on facebook, which would attract more views, comments, shares and likes. Once commented or liked, it will be reflected as a new activity altogether on their friend’s facebook page, thereby getting the political message across more effectively. Besides, Twitter also allows close interaction with President Obama as they would be able to “follow” all his posts or tweets. Over time, the voters would subconsciously register the user “Barack Obama” as their friend. Trust is deeply enrooted into their souls and of course they would support their “friend” during the election. Through these interactive mediums and social platform, messages with political agenda have been easily and conveniently hidden and disguised as a regular update, which over time, gained trust in the voters and eventually won their hearts. (Adi Robertson, 2012) 2. The viral factor
In this current era of information liberalisation, the correct usage of IT can enable ideas to spread virally like a wild fire, reaching masses of crowd that were once obsolete from the world. For example in the 2012 elections in United States, 2 venomous post about Romney on Obama’s Facebook page were “liked” by 364,963 people within 48 hours and shared nearly 57,696 times. On Tumblr, a series of animated pictures -- or GIFs -- with speech excerpts was liked or re-posted 16,861 times (Julianna Goldman, 2012) . Obama seems to be having the upper hand of the use of New Media platforms to cripple his opponent. So has it or has it not helped Obama? 4 years ago, when Facebook was only 10% of its current registered users and before the smartphones were prevalent, Obama championed the use of social media in the presidential elections and had seen exceptionally impressive amount of success arising from the adequate use of social media platforms. The rallies for a “new change” of the after-bush-era garnered tremendous support from all citizens across United States. Against all odds, Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American president to head the US. This has been greatly attributed to the use of his facebook fanpage, which he updates regularly, sometimes a few posts a day, to keep in touch with its voters. Along time, the undecided citizens were won over by the intimacy that they felt with Obama through his updates on his mission and vision. Experts have claimed that they the use of Social Media have drawn citizens so much closer to Obama, which enabled him to sway the hearts of its people easily. (Jared Keller,2012) In 2012 elections, Obama campaign again had the upper hand, leveraging its ability to connect with the masses on different social platforms that were not possible in 2008. Nicco Mele, a professor at Harvard, supported this view and mentioned that Obama has been operating its social media campaigns at a different order of magnitude just by the raw numbers. Closing to the election date, Obama had Obama’s 31.1 million Facebook page likes, compared to Mitt Romney’s of 10.2 million likes. Obama had a leverage magnitude of 3 times that of Mitt Romney. For every post of Obama’s website, the virality factor of it was to the power of 3, since the 3 times larger fanbase had their own groups of friends and close networks. This had greatly increased the size of Obama’s influence amongst voters and citizens. (Andrew Laughlin,2012) In this current era of information liberalisation, the correct usage of IT can enable ideas to spread virally like a wild fire, reaching masses of crowd that were once obsolete from the world. For example in the 2012 elections in United States, 2 venomous post about Romney on Obama’s Facebook page were “liked” by 364,963 people within 48 hours and shared nearly 57,696 times. On Tumblr, a series of animated pictures -- or GIFs -- with speech excerpts was liked or re-posted 16,861 times. (Goldman, 2012) Obama seems to be having the upper hand of the use of New Media platforms to cripple his opponent. So has it or has it not helped Obama? 4 years ago, when Facebook was only 10% of its current registered users and before the smartphones were prevalent, Obama championed the use of social media in the presidential elections and had seen exceptionally impressive amount of success arising from the adequate use of social media platforms. The rallies for a “new change” of the after-bush-era garnered tremendous support from all citizens across United States. Against all odds, Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American president to head the US. This has been greatly attributed to the use of his Facebook fan page, which he updates regularly, sometimes a few posts a day, to keep in touch with its voters. Along time, the undecided citizens were won over by the intimacy that they felt with Obama through his updates on his mission and vision. Experts have claimed that they the use of Social Media have drawn citizens so much closer to Obama, which enabled him to sway the hearts of its people easily. (Jared Keller,2012) In 2012 elections, Obama campaign again had the upper hand, leveraging its ability to connect with the masses on different social platforms that were not possible in 2008. Nicco Mele, a professor at Harvard, supported this view and mentioned that Obama has been operating its social media campaigns at a different order of magnitude just by the raw numbers. Closing to the election date, Obama had Obama’s 31.1 million Facebook page likes, compared to Mitt Romney’s of 10.2 million likes. Obama had a leverage magnitude of 3 times that of Mitt Romney. For every post of Obama’s website, the virality factor of it was to the power of 3, since the 3 times larger fanbase had their own groups of friends and close networks. This had greatly increased the size of Obama’s influence amongst voters and citizens. (Andrew Laughlin, 2012)

2. Fund Raising
Social media has also been proven to be incredibly efficient to raise funds for the political campaigns, with increased convenience to donate. Back in August 2012, Obama’s campaign had raised more than $147 million, and this is multiple folds of the $31million for his 2008 Democratic nomination campaign, beating even the much vaunted Clinton money machine for the funding race. “He’s got a real buzz about him” claimed an envious Hilary Clinton strategist. According to Campaign Finance Institute, a Washington- based group that analyzing political donations, majority of its donors were exposed to its social media platforms and were moved by them to take action, which was to donate small amounts. The advantages of Internet fund raising are obvious; it’s cheap, quick and far less intimidating for on-the-streets political novices to support their political idols by means of simple credit card billing, amounting to as little as $20, compared to writing big cheques by muscular network of bundlers during the George W. Bush times. (Tumulty, 2007) “We’re seeing the full flowering of the Internet for fund raising for presidential races, “says former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner. No campaign has been more aggressive in tapping into social networks and leveraging the financial power of hundreds of thousands of small doners than Obama’s 2012 Obama’s fund-raising campaign. In fact, President Obama actually sits atop a cash mountain of more than $100 million, compared to Romney’s $39.5 million donations from small donors – an area that Republicans had expected to be dominant. (MacAskill, 2012) Obama’s camp has once again played the use of social media campaigning to their favour to supply them with abundance of capital to fuel their aggressive campaigns at crucial battleground states like that of Colorado, and Florida.

JEREMY’s key arguments Are netizens really more politically empowered with the advent of new media? While substantial literature has all pointed to Americans being more politically aware and up-to-date with the daily happenings of the campaigning, as well as being informed of the different political agendas that the two different red and blue camps are vying for, we staunchly believed that it’s too naïve to conclude that America has achieved true democracy and political participation with new media.

"You, the American people, reminded us that while our road ahead has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," Obama exclaimed in his victory speech at McCormick Place, Chicago, as cheers in the hall were deafening. The feeling of being on a shared journey since Obama launched his re-election campaign in 2011 resonates among the thousands of supporters who had been screaming for hours before Obama locked in 270 electoral votes. That’s the clarion call that Obama’s victory is not only one that scored himself a second term in the White House, but a victory that successful captured the hearts and beliefs of the masses. Our group purports that the use of social media as a forward wielding tool is not only limited to just the contextual uses of technology. On a deeper analysis, we believed that Obama’s utilisation of new media goes beyond its applications. It illustrates the power of technology to exert control over human destiny, and its ability to galvanise supporters and non-supporters for a common political goal; in essence, a euphemism for the power of technology to propagate and brainwash. Jacques Ellul, a French philosopher who approached technology from a dialectical view, was one of the first few academias who voiced his concern about the emergence of a technology tyranny over humanity. In his book Propaganda; The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (Ellul, 1973), he predicted that instead of being subservient to humans, modern technology will become such a phenomenal force that humans beings have to adapt to it, and accept total change. Indeed, as a mechanism of change, new media and technology are invariably manipulated by political powers to influence the attitude of a community towards some political cause, or essentially, known as propaganda. On a closer look, the authoritarian use of modern technologies has largely influenced the results of the 2012 America elections – in fact to such significant extent, that the laymen is even unaware that his attitudes and behaviours are being subconsciously influenced by politicians’ shrewd use of social media to influence an individual psychologically.

For example, it is now routine for millions of Americans to receive an email “from” the President of the United States “signed” “Barack.” Of course, it’s a mass-email, but the tone is informal, as the signature appears to be. For another example, the cable “news” channels feature talk-show hosts and “news” anchors who routinely ask what “your” opinion is on a matter, and they invite you to send an email or to “text” (a relatively new verb) them. The effect on some people, even if they are jaded, may be, if only for an instant, to make them feel special.

Tsunami of information that enhances effectiveness of propagation
Excessive data do not enlighten the reader or the listener; they drown him. He cannot remember them all, or coordinate them, or understand them; if he does not want to risk losing his mind, he will merely draw a general picture from them. People are now caught in a web of facts that they have been flooded with, that they cannot even form a choice or judgement. The Mechanism of modern information induces a sort of hypnosis in the individual such that he is inhibited to choose freely with regard to what is presented to him as the truth. (REQUIRES DATA AND SOURCE TO ILLUSTRATE THE DELUGE OF INFORMATION ON THE NET)

The ‘information glut’ leads to the breakdown of a coherent narrative, for without a meaningful context, information is not only useless, but potentially dangerous. (Postman, 1993) This is what described by Postman as technopoly – a totalitarian technocracy, which demands the submission of all forms of cultural life to the sovereignty of technology. We believe that the employment of social media such as twitter and facebook, allows political parties to employ encirclement on individuals by trying to surround him by all possible routes, and thereby assailing him in both his private and public life. The act of constantly, and perpetually, updating of pages through newsfeed and emails, allows politicians to propagate their political agenda by insidiously impregnating ideals and beliefs, on a continuous repetition. Such views were also echoed during a panel discussion “Mind over Media: Politics, Propaganda, and the Digital Age’ at the University of Southern California in 2012, when experts and professors discussed how social media has transformed the ways propaganda is disseminated in the current US presidential elections.

The use of social media has become vehicles of propaganda that has helped politicians espouse political ideas, and hence effectively wining the elections for Obama. The use of all means of communication to bombard a voter in a totalizing and concerted fashion, has striking resemblance as that of the use of propaganda by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party to create the most extreme and terrifying totalitarian regime that the world has even seen. (Arendt, 1973) The advent of new media actually brings propaganda to an even higher unprecedented level. Its the imperceptible mastery of the art of propaganda that seeks to fabricate a national ideology around their political beliefs and goals, that make them such an inexorable force. "propaganda techniques have advanced so much faster than the reasoning capacity of the average man that to close this gap and shape this man intellectually outside the framework of propaganda is almost impossible.

Ellul argued that literacy and education make an individual vulnerable to propaganda. He stresses this point because literate, well-educated people tend to think they're immune to propaganda, that it only affects the "ignorant" masses, and he wants us literate elites to know that the reverse is true.

literacy fosters more abstract modes of thought than orality makes literates much more easily propagandized than nonliterates

uses all of the means of communication available in a totalizing and concerted fashion Law of the instrument Abraham Maslow said in 1996, “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. (Maslow’s Hammer) Over reliance on a familiar tool . “To a man with a computer, everything looks like data”

“
The individual who burns with desire for action but does not know what to do is a common type in our society. He wants to act for the sake of justice, peace, progress, but does not know how. If propaganda can show him this 'how' then it has won the game; action will surely follow".[28]:209
”


Evaluation:

Modern propaganda is not only political but also sociological.

Forward, the Obama campaign's collectivist campaign slogan, targets undecided voters.
Forward is collectivist's language -- a summons to the masses to undertake some heroic advancement in support of a shared goal -- or presumably so. Since Forward became the Obama campaign slogan in April, its popularity with socialist regimes has been noted, as well as how it diverts attention away from Obama's failures in office.

Adolf Hitler’s reappropriation of the once-inspirational swastika for anti-Semitic purposes have in fact, striking resemblance of Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster for Obama 2008 campaign.

Hitler and his leaders understood the power of propaganda in conveying the party line, and poster art was often at the heart of the publicity machine.

posters were a powerful means to simply communicate the main Nazi policies, through simplified and metaphorical imagery.

he posters offered a romanticized ideal of the Nazi Party as a force for good, often employing religious imagery which represented Hitler as a liberating hero.

In 1933, their Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, called radio the ‘eighth great power’ and predicted that it “will be for the 20th century what the press was to the nineteenth.” He initiated a scheme whereby the German government subsidized the production and sale of cheap radio sets – the Volksempfanger, or ‘people’s receiver' – limited in range to local German and Austrian stations. This placed the party's voice in every home in the country. By the start of the war, nearly the entire nation had fallen under the radio’s spell and was bombarded with speeches and ‘news’ designed to brainwash the population.
→ draw parallal with the widespread of new media, and how political parties are monopolising over sites, facebook pages to impregnate suporters with ideas, forcing people to accept new ideologies by bombarding users with new infromation, whether is it through continuous updates, or new videos..

While the party entered German homes, it also entered the social sphere, controlling what people would pay to go and see. A Department of Film was set up in 1933 with the expressed aim of “spreading the National Socialist world view to the entire German people.” Primarily it did this by holding film shows, a frequent and popular occurrence in German cities and towns. Hitler and Goebbels were both fascinated by the medium and regularly showed films in their own homes.

The obama effect- guerilla marketing

1 page (Propaganda at the highest level)
Our group believes that the Just days before the 2012 elections day, Stanford University graduate Jonathan Mayer published a detailed account of leaks of personally identifying information on both BarackObama.com and MittRomney.com to a list of third-party corporates, despite the campaigns’ claims that all the information collected and shared with Web tracking firms was all kept confidential. One of the hallmarks of this US election campaign is the use of increasingly sophisticated data-mining techniques to customise political messages and banners based on the digital trails political activists leave as they visit these internet sites. Unbeknownst to the masses, Evidon, a company that helps monitor and control third-party tracking software, identified a significant increase in the usage of trackers on the campaigning websites, with 76 different tracking programmes on barackobama.com over the month of September.

Mirroring practices pioneered by online retailing using web-tracking analytics such as cookies or 3rd-party softwares, such information allows the Democratic Party to create detailed portrait and segmentation of Americans, so as to effectively use marketing campaigns for different voter profiles. Tracking voters’ clicks on their websites and having a complete grasp of confidential information of voters such as the browsing history, elements of real name, email address and ZIP codes to identify street addresses and states, the use of web analytics catapulted the use of insidiously effective propaganda techniques in this digital world to a new high.

In fact, our research has found that besides the use of personality simulation to profile customers, personality profiling and simulation techniques have also been widely practised as an advanced technology used in military war games and FBI profiling to program and control people. Political parties have been leveraging on this similar methodology to engage in micro targeting – a predominant, yet insidious, mean of delivering political messages online. Digital political marketing has quickly become an integral part of political campaigns in the USA, and in the current election, it is clear that the increasingly accurate micro targeting of messaging plays a crucial role in all stages of these contests—including recruiting, fundraising, persuasion and get-out-the vote efforts.

According to a recent 2012 report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, political campaigning now for the first time can actually reach out to prospective voters with messaging that address each person’s specific interests and causes. The 2012 America elections will go down in history as the year that online political propaganda hit its stride and finally matured, playing a central role in the election process. The ability to use web message-customization methods are quantum-leap adaptions of longstanding political propaganda techniques in the World War II period, when ideologies are now targeted at prospective voters by demographics, race, interests and many others. The ‘data exhaust and trails’ that we left everyday on the net, allows politicians to leverage on these information to design sophisticated brainwashing techniques that utilises all forms of media to draw the individual into the net of propaganda.

The use of the most evil and insidiously effective propaganda techniques. Bringing propaganda to an ever higher an unprecedented level - In the case of the American over-heated political scene, spin is really designed to manipulate mass action, mass mind, attitudes and behavior and this we have see ample evidence for the past two years to date, propaganda and spin are at their height, and the propaganda machines are splurging the public with negative adds ad- infinitum.

Technological breakthroughs, affecting politics and everything else, are now taken for granted by a generation that barely notices the sci-fi velocity of change.

IT project (SOURCES - CONSOLIDATE A WHOLE LIST)

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tech/news/a436386/barack-obama-post-to-smash-social-media-records.html (Barack Obama post to smash social media records)

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-06/how-the-election-looks-on-the-internet (How the U.S. Election Looks on the Internet)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-22/obama-winning-social-media-if-hashtagwars-really-matter.html (Obama Winning Social Media, If #Hashtagwars Really Matter)

http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/power_of_propaganda_from_nazi_era_to_now (Power of propaganda, from Nazi Era to now) - how propaganda can be used as a force for politicl gain, for examplein the Nazi-ruledGermany, but continuing throuh the current United States Presidential elections

http://politicsandlanguage.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/social-media-and-propaganda/ (social media and propaganda)

http://politicsandlanguage.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/is-it-fascism-yet/ (United States - true democracy or facisim? - intertwin with the role of IT)

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/brainwashing.html (Brainwashing in America, Conspiracy Plan)

http://www.beingpeterkim.com/2011/05/social-media-brainwashing.html (Signs of social media brainwashing)

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/04/13/slacktivists-changing-world-with-likes-clicks-and-tweets/ (Slacktivists: Changing the world with likes, clicks, and tweets?)

Book References:

Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes 1965/1973

Baumgartner, J. C. and J. S. Morris (2010 ). "MyFaceTube Politics SocialNetworking Web Sites and Political Engagement of Young Adults." SocialScience Computer Review 28: 24-44.

Biddle, S. (2012). Twitter doesn't make you Martin Luther King. Gizmodo UK. K.Hannaford. London. http://gizmodo.com/5876512/twitter-doesnt-make-you-martin-luther-king (retrieved 14 March 2012).

Christensen, H. S. (2011). "Political activities on the Internet: Slacktivism orpolitical participation by other means." First Monday 16(2).

Coleman, S. and J. G. Blumler, Eds. (2009). The Internet and democraticcitizenship: Theory, practice and policy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Dis (2011). Slacktivism: God Bless America… If There is a God. My World, JustDis. http://elmundodis.com/2011/08/08/god-bless-america-if-there-is-a-god/ (retrieved 14 March 2012)

Morozov, E. (2009) The brave new world of slactivism. Foreign Policy

Svensson, J. (2011). "The Expressive Turn of Citizenship in DigitalLate Modernity." Journal of Democracy 3(1): 42 - 56.

Verba, S., K. Lehman Schlozman, et al. (1995). Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Xenos, M. and P. Moy (2007). "Direct and Differential Effects of the Internet on Political and Civic Engagement. Journal of Communication 57, 704-718.

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