European Elections and Facebook: Political Advertising and Deliberation?

European Elections and Facebook: Political Advertising and Deliberation?

Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic (Independent Researcher, Italy)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9879-6.ch010
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This chapter deals with the political advertising strategies used on Facebook during the elections campaigns for the European Parliament in 2009 and 2014. It explores and examines the posts of 11 political parties and comments they received during the last two weeks before the elections. The focus of the chapter is on possible interactions among citizens and politicians or citizens themselves that would support the idea that online deliberation could function as an improvement over other types of campaigning dialogues and the ways in which individuals used Facebook. The chapter explores possible similarities and differences in campaigning of political parties with the same national and ideological background, if any. It also makes a comparison between the campaigns in 2009 and 2014.
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Social Media, Political Advertising And Online Deliberation

Political advertising is a major tool for political actors to communicate with citizens in order to influence their voting decisions (Kaid, 1999). According to Kaid (1999), it takes place through the channels of mass communication, in any written/audio/visual format, either as paid or unpaid advertising and it is completely controlled by the message producer (Kaid, 1999). Media management of electoral campaigns is used in order for political messages to be transmitted to the audience (Lilleker, 2006). Accordingly, media agenda is attempted to be controlled by the campaign manager (Lilleker, 2006). However, we are not interested in indirect campaigning through traditional mass media that can control the content of information. Instead, we focus on direct ways of advertising through online communicative channels.

Social media are not classic media but the so-called read-write web or user-generated content, in which the audiences are not just passive viewers of the content but become participants that contribute to the creation of content. Many citizens nowadays are more interested in the less formal, conversational campaign that is facilitated by means of the Internet (Scoble & Israel, 2006). Cardenal (2013) suggests that, since the beginning of 2000, political parties have perceived online tools as useful for political mobilization, but the exact benefits of online advertising remain mostly uncertain. Similarly, Williams and Gulati (2012) argue that voters can effectively be mobilized through social media and mentions their significant role in the US 2008 congressional elections.

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