According to Get Social Bahamas there are currently over 150,000 Bahamians on Facebook. 126,000 of whom are eligible voters.
Bahamians have flocked to the social media network over the last few years. Just a couple years ago (2009) there were only around 55,000 of us on there. No doubt there were even less than that number in 2007.
This election will be the first in this country where social media plays a significant role.
In past elections all the communication was being done by the parties via traditional media channels. As a result the average Bahamian didn’t really stand a chance of being heard.
Social Media has changed that. Social Media levels the playing field. It allows ordinary citizens like myself to be heard and to possibly influence others.
Social media is defined as the tools that people use to communicate online. Some say its word of mouth on steroids.
I believe social media will play a significant role in Bahamian Politics moving forward. In fact it is already doing so.
The NDP was propelled into the Bahamian consciousness through social media. The popularity of The DNA is fueled by social media. All major parties are on social media. Cable 12 News has a significant social media presence. Even the Royal Bahamas Police Force is on Face Book!
The BTC Protests were largely fueled by Social Media.
Various political discussion groups have sprung up, where everyday Bahamians debate various issues.
One of those groups, aptly named, Bahamas 2012 Elections played a significant role in exposing conflicts of interest at URCA during the BTC Sale debate.
Another noteworthy group is Crossfire, which has taken many of its members and discussions from social media onto traditional media.
These groups are shaping the debate in this country and creating dialogue where there was none before. The powers that be are listening.
After watching the news last evening I started this thread in Crossfire;
Yes that is Junior Minister of Finance, Zhivargo Laing on there duking it out with us ordinary folks. I must say he came off really well too.
But It’s not just Minister Laing who is on there, Ryan Pinder of the PLP is a regular. He was perhaps the first big name to dare to post in one of these forums.
It’s obvious that Social Media is changing the way things happen in this Country. We don’t know to what extent yet, but I will wager that it will be more significant than many realize.
Your Turn: How Will Face Book Influence Our Next General Election?