Bot farms, fake news and data breaches have all been used to spread misinformation during some of the most important electoral processes in the last few years.
From Brexit to the 2016 American Presidential Election, passing by the European and Latin American newsworthy events; it is now common knowledge how social networks can be used to influence voters and benefit political campaigns during elections.
However, there is always the other side of the story, and in this case, the positive impact of social media during the election cycle is also hitting clicks. Fortunately, not everything is misapplication and fake news when it comes to social media and elections.
For instance, ethics policies, cybersecurity progress, best practices, and continuous monitoring are widespread practices on these networks. Hence users can access reliable information -or detect attempts to manipulation- promptly.
Some inherent benefits of this digital transformation age are improvements in freedom of expression, voting education, and voter engagement and activism.
Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are capable of giving minorities safe spaces to openly discuss their issues and needs, connect with people, as well as organising themselves to take action. Therefore, people with diverse backgrounds get an equal voice in the public conversation, which can steer it toward positive results in the long term.
Social media networks have proven very effective in helping authorities conduct campaigns to increase voter turnout, or to spread information on the mechanics and logistics of elections.
Likewise, social networks have given citizens a chance to be heard by those who represent them (or want to do it in the future).
A recent trend on social media has been to shy away from more public and open networks like Twitter and Facebook to more closed communities like Instagram or Snapchat. These alternatives create the opportunity for more direct communication, even one on one when trying to reach specific audiences.
The direct public dialogue between candidates, officers and their constituencies can indeed be positive for rocketing our digital democracies. Not only for debating and supporting, but also for accountability purposes during elections and after the election frenzy is long gone.