A Study on Facebook

Somak Sen*

Abstract

From the Tunisia upheaval to present day Middle-east unrest, social media have been playing a very important and decisive role in every aspect. In 2001, it happened in Philippines through text messages; India also witnessed the same in 2011. Although it happened after ten years from the incidents of Phillipines, historical outcome of the social revolution at the national level through social media networking sites took place in India. On 5 April, 2011, Anna Hazare started a movement along with his followers namely Indian anti-corruption movement which finally earned a major shape in terms of social renaissance against decade old corruption practiced in our country at various levels. The social media networking sites played a major role in this regard. A study on the availability of political news and the attempt to cheer up the followers and supporters has been conducted through one of the most demanding social networking sites, Facebook. The time limit for this study was of one month. For better focus, three globally renowned figure’s Facebook pages have been observed. They are – Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India; Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of the Aam Aadmi Party and Anna Hazare, the pioneer of social movement against all kinds of odds in terms of governance in India.

Introduction

The words ‘social media’ is now not unknown to us. In a world, where computer and internet have been inextricably mingled with the lives of common people, the term social media has been in frequent use. It refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.1 According to Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” 2

Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals. 3 In order to define social media in detail, the definition given by the experts in this regard is given below:

‘We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to

  1. construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,
  2. articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and
  3. view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.’ 4

Through social networking sites, people would get connected with their childhood friends within fraction of second with whom they have no contact even for decades. SNSs, however, are historically unique in the amount and detail of personal information that users regularly provide; the explicit articulation of relational data as a central part of these sites’ functioning; and the staggering rate of their adoption. As such, they constitute a particularly rich and attractive source of network data-one that social scientists have only just begun to explore (see Boyd and Ellison, 2007). 5

Facebook.com is the sixth most-trafficked website in the world and ranks first as a photo-sharing site, enjoying more than 80 million active users across over 55,000 regional, work, high school, and college networks (Facebook, 2008). 6 It was first launched in February 2004. Facebook helps its users to create individual profiles, to search for the groups and can join that group only after sending a request to that particular group.

Social media networks have been recognized as the tools of generating awareness besides acknowledging people on different issues. Facebook is one of the most desired social networking sites in this regard. Its user base knows no bound. ‘While their largest number of users outside of the United States are in India, the companies make very little money from the country, where Google owns a large part of the digital advertising market. Facebook has 100 million users in India, its second-largest market worldwide. Similarly, for LinkedIn, India is the second-largest market while for Twitter India is set to be the third-largest market in terms of user base. However, when it comes to monetization, the story is completely different.’7

Though we are specifying in this study such a time period while Twitter and other social networking sites also besides Facebook draws a large volume of Indian users. Still Facebook is the basic and most widely recognized social networking site regarding any issue.

Let’s discuss a little about the key figures of this study in brief.

Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare came to the forefront of the media while he started a campaign namely ‘India Against Corruption’. Kisan Baburao Anna Hazare, a former Indian military personnel, at his age of 74 years, started a hunger strike on April 5, 2011 ‘to exert pressure on the Government of India to enact as well as envisage a strict anti-corruption law, The Lokpal Bill, 2011 as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public places. The fast led to nation-wide protests in support.’ He ended his fast on April 9, 2011, after the Indian government had agreed with the septuagenarian’s demands. The then UPA II government issued a gazette notification in order to form a Joint Committee which includes competent representatives both from the government and civil society as well to draft the legislation. && 9

Arvind Kejriwal

An IIT Kharagpur alumnus and a former IRS official, Arvind Kejriwal is the founder member and supremo of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a political organization that was born in November 26, 2012. Though Arvind and his few followers and advisors joined the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement in 2011 under the leadership of Anna Hazare, they found it later difficult to run under the same canopy as there were many political and ideological differences between them and Hazare.

AAP won the hearts of the Indian people within a very few period because of its agenda. In Delhi, the party took a major shape and defeated the Sheila Dixit led Congress government in the Legislative Assembly election in 2013. Arvind Kejriwal became the seventh Chief Minister of Delhi with support from INC and Independent on December 28, 2013. Just after 48 days, Kejriwal resigned from the post of Chief Minister on February 14, 2014 citing non cooperation from the other political parties to pass the anti-corruption legislation. He and his party always remained in news headlines during those 48 days while on power. 10 Arvind Kejriwal and his followers took massive help of social networking sites to spread their message to the mass. Facebook is one of them. 11

Narendra Modi

The 15th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi started his supremacy of political career as the Chief Minister of Gujarat since 2001. He had remained as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for four times before he took the oath of Prime Minister on May 26, 2014. There was a highly positive wave for the Bharatiya Janata Party throughout the country during the last six months of the 16th Lok Sabha election. Various reasons were after that wave. Corruption stands in number one position, of which Congress has been accused a lot. The success and concomitant growth of Gujarat state under the leadership of Narendra Modi has attracted the Indian youth section mostly in terms of employment opportunities, per capita income growth and new spheres of business-openings. That was reflected in the result of the 16th Lok Sabha election also. Bharatiya Janata Party alone won 282 seats, while Congress was able to bag all time lowest 44 seats. The May 16, 2014 result declared not only the thumping victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA – 336 seats out of 543 parliamentary constituencies), but underlined the grim fact that it was due to the craze of Narendra Modi, who was announced to be the prime ministerial candidate months ago.

‘The BJP itself won 31.0% of all votes and 282 (51.9%) of all seats. It is the first time since the 1984 Indian general elections that a party has won enough seats to govern without the support of other parties.’12

Narendra Modi is known to be a regular user of various social networking sites and though these network, he maintained regular contacts with his supporters and followers. He is known to be the second most popular personality across the globe to get followed in Twitter (more than six million followers), another highly popular social networking site. 13

Area of study:

This research paper would focus into the course of action in terms of the usage of the social networking site by the three above mentioned Indian nationals. The time limit that has been taken here to read and examine the frequency of using the social networking site namely Facebook was from September 20, 2014 to October 20, 2014, i.e. of one month duration. During this time frame, each of their Facebook account has been visited and data has been collected.

Objectives:

The objectives of the study are as follows:

  • Whether the three personalities regularly work out their activities to make the people aware about their plans and programs through social networking site mainly Facebook or not.
  • How frequent they are in the Facebook to generate the awareness program?
  • What are their main agenda in Facebook – political issues only or others and what are the effects in terms of likeness, shares, comments, etc.

Review of literature:

Williams et al (2008) in A review of online social networking profiles by adolescents states that social networking sites or profiles offer opportunities to individuals to create and maintain personal internet sites which ultimately allow users (both owner and the other users) to post content according to their wishes. This, in turn, helps to create a personal network.

In ‘The remaking of Narendra Modi’, Ross Colvin and Satarupa Bhattacharjya (2014) state that ‘the difference is Modi and his sales pitch. Economic success is important, he seems to realise. But so is telling that story again and again. As chief minister, Modi has embraced modern technology like no other Indian leader. He is active on Facebook and YouTube and has 1.8 million followers on Twitter, though aides say that number will have to grow substantially for it to have any impact in an election. During his reelection campaign last December, Modi used 3-D projection technology to appear simultaneously at 53 events – a world record. He appears impeccably dressed, either in suits or stylish tailor-made kurtas, a knee-length Indian shirt, rimless glasses and a neatly trimmed white beard.’14

In ‘L2 Study: Facebook Rules Social Media Landscape’ while denoting the popularity of Facebook, Rachel Strugatz (2014) stated that only four social networking sites matter a lot in terms of making or creating impression on the audience. They are – Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and WeChat. The writer also stated that Facebook has the strategy that is scale, same like Amazon and China, which means more for less. That’s why Facebook can offer targeted impressions to its large volume of audience. All these have made Facebook the final winner in the race amid the various social networking sites. Facebook presently enjoys a huge community which no other social networking site enjoys. Just two years ago, Facebook had zero percent revenue from mobile phones, nowadays the same is earning sixty-two percent revenue from the mobile sector. L2 Inc. is a business intelligence firm. 15

Research methodology:

A sample survey has been conducted on the available data taken from the facebook pages of the three above mentioned politicians. The quantitative content analysis thereafter takes place. The data are completely secondary.

The names of the visited pages and the links of these three personalities’ Facebook account are as follows:

Data Findings and analysis:

Table 1:

Table 1 discusses about the number of likes of the three facebook pages of the three personalities. Narendra Modi has the highest number of likes in his page (24,110,343), followed by Arvind Kejriwal (5,626,202)and I Support Anna Hazare (12,819) respectively. Hence it can be realised that Anna Hazare’s awareness programme among the society through the usage of Facebook has been reduced compared to Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi in recent days. The difference between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal is also wider enough. The gap between the two leaders directs that Narendra Modi has a wider base among his net-followers than Arvind Kejriwal.

Table 2:

Table 2 discusses in terms of posts in the respective facebook pages during the mentioned time frame. The Table 2 directly shows that I Support Anna Hazare page has no post while Arvind Kejriwal’s page has 68 posts and Narendra Modi’s page has 81 posts as well during the time frame. It means that while Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi have been attemtping their best to increase their web-supporters’ base through constant uploading of different types of message in their Facebook pages, Anna Hazare’s page goes blank, thereby indiacting a complete end from his court. In this table also, Narendra Modi has been found in a higher stage than Arvind Kejriwal. Though the difference is not too much in terms of numbers, still Narendra Modi takes the lead.

Table 3:

Table 3 discusses about the frequency of their posts in the one month time frame. Table 3 shows that I Support Anna Hazare stands at 0, while both Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi stand at same place (30 days consecutively and constatntly). This denotes the fact both Arvind kejriwal and Narendra Modi have been trying their best to keep the people informed about their plans, programmes and course of action almost at a similar rate, while Anna Hazare has just vanished from the scenario with a nil upload.

Table 4:

Table 4 discusses about the number of maximum likings of the followers in the Facebook pages of the three personalities. It has been found that I Support Anna Hazare’s last updated post on a particular date before the stipulated time frame has only 1 like. While Arvind Kejriwal’s one post within the stipulated time frame of one month has received a maximum of 136052 likes, Narendra Modi’s one particular post within the same stipulated time frame has bagged a maximum of 2204248 likes. Here again we have found that Narendra Modi has a wider supportetr as well as followers base than Arvind Kejriwal. The difference between the duo barring Anna Hazare is also a maximum.

Table 5:

 Table 5 shows the reflection of comments. I support Anna Hazare page has received no comments in its last update, which is beyond our stipulated time frame. Arvind Kejriwal’s one post that has received maximum likeness by his followers and supporters has received 6867 comments, while Narendra Modi has bagged 71621 comments in the similar perspective. The data gaian has proved that Narendra Modi has remained in a much higher position than Arvind Kejriwal in the comments section also. The difference between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal is also beyond the minimum limit. Comments are considered very much useful than mere likeness as the comments express the readers’ state of mind in that particular perspective. The more comments one receive in Facebook page irrespective of positive or negative tilts, the more is the recognition of awareness of that specified fact.

Table 6:

Table 6 describes about the sharing of the specific post that has received maximum likeness from the followers and supporters. The sharing means to spread the same message of the main user by his or her friends or followers or supporters through their individual pages of Facebook. It has a special adavantage. The people who are not in the friends’ list or the followers’ list of the main user whose message has been shared, also come to know about that particular message through the mutual friendship. Here also Narendra Modi stands in the highest rank with a sharing figure of 133910, while Arvind Kejriwal’s post has been shared by only 21887 persons. Narendra Modi once again has proven his popularity among the netizens with a great success.

Table 7:

Table 7 describes the rate of political news posting by the three personalities. While Anna Hazare stopped at 0 value, Arvind Kejriwal has posted 56 political news out of 68 total posting, while Narendra Modi has posted 58 poltical news out of 81 total posting. If we calculate the same accroding to percentage, then Arvind Kejriwal stands at 82% and Narendra Modi stands at 71.6%. It shows that Arvind Kejriwal runs faster than Narendra Modi in this regard.

Table 8:

Table 8 describes about the rate of non political post by the above mentioaned three personalities. It has been found that Narendra Modi here also runs faster than Arvind Kejriwal while Anna Hazare stands at 0 value again within the stipulated time frame. Arvind Kejriwal out of his 68 posts, has posted 12 facts as non-poltical posts like congratulations to his followers or supporters at the Valmiki Diwas, showing solidarity with the vicitms family members at the stampede happened at Patna, congratulating the Indian hockey team and Mary Kom for their success, paying homage Dr. Sarabhai and congratulating ISRO for their unbelievable success in the global history of space, etc. Narendra Modi also has posted 23 non poltical news out of his 81 posts in his page. These non politcal news include congratulating message to the combined commanders of the armed forces of India, paying homage to great Indian nationals for their contribution towards the development of the country, wishing rejoyous mood and happy lifestyles to the citizens of India during Mahalaya, Durga Puja, Dusshera and Diwali. If we calculate the same in percentage, we would find that Arvind kejriwal has posted 17.64% non-political news, while Narendra Modi has posted 28.39% non-political news.

Table 9:

Table 9 discusses about the similar posts in the respective Facebook pages of these three personalities within the stipulated time frame. Table 9 shows while Anna Hazare grounds at zero level, both Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi stand at similar place as both of them have posted four (4) posts on same topic. They are – Navaratri festival, Gandhi Jayanti, Maharshi Valmiki Jayanti and Swaach Bharat Abhiyaan. In these four posts, both of their message were almost similar though the date of posts are found different. Though Swaach Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Movement) is considered as a brainchild of Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party, Arvind Kejriwal has provided a completely positive look in this regard. Both Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi were found in a working posture on that day with an aim to clean the country.

Conclusion:

It has been realized through this study that among the three above mentioned personalities, only Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal have been maintaining regular contacts with their supporters and followers through Facebook. Anna Hazare has been remaining silent on the social networking site (here read Facebook) since a long period. Though this study reveals that both Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi are having different sort and volume of data regarding the number of posts, likes, shares, comments, political and apolitical post, it also expresses the fact both of them are trying their best to woo their supporters as well followers through their individual Facebook pages. It is a small step comparatively. As per the political party’s expenditure on different advertising agencies to make their policies popular, the Facebook message is much easier and less costly than any method. By posting several developmental and positive messages as well as criticizing messages, one can easily woo the people towards his / her ideology. Here also reflects the same. Right from the wishing of Diwali celebration to political message, both Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi have been attempting their best to attract the audience. Human mind is very much affected by visuals. Facebook as a whole offers, we all know, a wide variety of opportunity to attract the audience mind through its varied conspicuous features. Both of these politicians have, therefore, utilised their best means. And the same is reflected in this study.

References

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