Miriam calls for 'net revolution' in 2013 polls

Posted at 02/13/2013 3:41 PM | Updated as of 02/13/2013 3:41 PM

Urges netizens to 'weaponize' social media, trump TV

MANILA – Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday challenged Filipino netizens to “weaponize social media” and use it to ensure that deserving candidates are elected in the 2013 mid-term polls.

“I have risen from my sick bed to issue you this challenge: For God's sake, save this country. Use social media during this three-month campaign period to ensure that our people shall be led to choose deserving national leaders,” the feisty senator said in a speech at the University of the Philippines-Manila.

Santiago said the 52 million Filipino voters are “bored with the antics” of some of the candidates in the upcoming election.

She said: “We are aghast at their resumes. Some of them are not even high school graduates. They resort to all kinds of cheap gimmickry, hoping to provide entertainment for free. They should not be called candidates; they should be called clowns.”

The senator said social media could bring an ominous wave of change in the political beach since rich politicians can no longer bribe all the netizens in cyberspace. She also noted that the Philippines is ranked among the top countries in terms of usage of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The lawmaker urged netizens to demote TV as king of political advertising and instead elevate "as political campaign weapons the tablet and the smart phone.”

“If the first Edsa revolution was a Xerox revolution, and if Edsa 2 was a text revolution, then the next revolution against political corruption should be called the Net revolution,” she said.

She added: “Social media lowers traditional socio-economic barriers to commanding the spotlight. The power of the rich politicians becomes more porous and the political warlords have less control. It has been said that text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Internet have given rise to a reservoir of political energy. Digital technologies enforce the formation and activities of civil society groups: mobs, movements, and civil society organizations.”

Santiago said Filipinos can weaponize social media by providing content that not only informs, but also entertains and motivates. She said issuing a statement, a newsletter, or a Facebook post is not enough.

“We need to enlist the work of more graphic designers, creative writers, videographers, and musicians,” she said.

She also said social media can be used for targeted messaging strategies by sending custom messages to specific audiences online.

She said social media should deliver content so engaging that individual netizens will be motivated to share it.