Politicians can’t overestimate the influence of social media in Salvadoran politics anymore. To have the potential of getting elected or re-elected, politicians have to be on social media. They need to be able to articulate their message to the population using social platforms. Yes, social media has that much influence on Salvadoran politics.
A perfect example of how using social media correctly can get you elected is president Nayib Bukele. Candidate Bukele ran the 2019 presidential campaign, mainly using social media. Nayib didn’t attend any debates; he didn’t participate in any formal news interviews and didn’t spend that much time out in the territory. The result was a sweeping victory by Nayib Bukele.
The good about Social Media in Salvadoran Politics.
A good reason politicians like social media is that they can stay in touch with potential voters at all times. They can instantly craft a message and send it to the masses without the need to sit down in an interview or spend a lot of money on marketing.
Also, potential voters can give their direct opinions to politicians on social media platforms. Politicians distinguish who the real likely voters are and act accordingly to comments or concerns; this is a win-win for both the politician and the voters.
The bad about social media in Salvadoran Politics.
The bad part of social media in Salvadoran politics is misinformation. Anyone can create fake information and make it pass for real news. Many people believe this made-up news and share it with others; therefore, it gains credibility and becomes more believable.
Fake news does exist all over the place on social media. The good news is that Salvadorans are getting better are detecting what is fake and what is real. Nonetheless, some voters believe everything their preferred political party or candidate says without questioning it. Well, that is a topic for a later article.
An example of the influence of social media in Salvadoran politics is what is happening in San Salvador with the trash problem; it involves Mario Duran (Minister of the interior) and Ernesto Muyshondt (Current city Mayor).
In San Salvador, the trash is not being collected and left on the street by the municipality. Ernesto Muyshondt, the city mayor, blames the trash collection problem on Mario Duran. Muyshondt argues that Duran is blocking access to disposal sites and manipulating the employees union.
On the other hand, Mario Duran argues that it’s a problem created by Ernesto Muyshondt’s for misappropriating employee funds and not paying the disposal sites money owed.
Social media allows all players involved, including the general population, to express how they feel and share their opinions about the matter. Without a doubt, this issue will have an impact on the upcoming 2021 elections.
The ugly about social media in Politics.
The ugly part of social media in Salvadoran politics is visible in misinformation and fake news. It is easy for anyone, politicians and citizens alike, to attack opponents or those who don’t share their way of thinking.
Some politicians or individuals who have the means create fake profiles or trolls to attack opponents. The ugly part for some politicians is that anyone with an account can share their opinions about their actions. Some of these individuals explicitly share their views using foul language.
Some politicians can’t handle comments made by either trolls or anger constituents. It gets to the point that these politicians restrict who can comment on their social media posts, not caring for its consequences.
Politicians having a hard time with social media.
Some politicians, especially the older generation, have difficulty understanding the influence that social media has on Salvadoran politics.
For instance, in the 2019 presidential election, both traditional political parties ARENA and FMLN maintained that all the online supporters Nayib Bukele had online were trolls and not real people. What happened? Nayib Bukele got more votes than both traditional political parties combined.
Even after the ugly defeat, some politicians belonging to the traditional parties refer to individuals online as trolls. They dismiss the fact that they are actual people who vote and prefer to hear what politicians have to say online rather than attend a political rally.
My point of view on Social Media and the influence it has on Salvadoran politics.
Undoubtedly, social media is here to stay. Salvadoran politicians and political parties have to start taking it more seriously if they want to remain relevant.
Even though the internet is not available all over the Salvadoran territory, social media already has a significant effect on who gets elected for public office.
My grandmother, who passed away a few years ago and didn’t understand much about the internet, said the following.