How Politics are using social media in Latin America
In recent years, we’ve seen social media usage and influence exploding, to the extent that it can no longer be dismissed in any sphere. More than 72% of Latin American Internet users are connected to at least one social network, and people are spending more and more time interacting and accessing content of all kinds via social media sites. Politically, we’ve already seen in Colombia, the U.S., and elsewhere that social media has a widespread and powerful impact that cannot be ignored.
Present indications are that social media is a growing trend, not a passing fad: individual sites may burst onto the scene and later wane in popularity, but they are replaced by newer or more innovative social media sites. What we are seeing in Venezuela confirms social media’s mainstream significance. While in several cases “underdog” groups have successfully used social media to increase cause awareness or voice dissent, mainstream parties and governments are now realizing that they must also treat social media as an important political channel.
An increasing number of today’s youth are growing up “online.” They are familiar and comfortable with social media interactions from an early age, and therefore will be more likely to become involved in politics via social media than any other type of forum. Social media use by established governments and parties need not weaken its potential to create positive change or to make the opinions of the populace heard – but the debate will be as complex and multi-voiced as Latin America itself.