Feature: International study cites COMELEC for social media innovation in election debates

The Commission on Elections was cited by an international study for its innovative use of social media in the conduct of the 2016 Presidential debates.

The Rethinking Debates project, which was launched in November 2015 by Civic Hall and Democracy Fund, conducted a study on how innovative formats and social media are being used in election debates around the world.

According to the study, "In countries that have a higher level of internet and smartphone penetration, their first presidential debates- or, as in the case of the Philippines, the first debates in nearly 25 years-have been more likely to embrace social media, both as a form of messaging between the campaigns and the voters and as a social space to discuss and debate the election. They have skipped directly to a style of debate that mirrors current media/technology partnerships in the United States, sometimes even surpassing it."

The Comelec partnered with Facebook, Twitter, and different news organizations in 2015 to monitor political discussions and trends throughout the election period. Facebook and Twitter also assisted the Commission with crowdsourcing questions ahead of the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

The study recommended that crowdsourcing in advance should be conducted for debates at all levels, focusing on diverse issues.

"We saw how social media influenced voter participation during the May elections. We will continue to maximize social media to ensure that the views of Filipino voters remain integral to the electoral process," Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said.

The last of the three presidential debates in April 24, 2016 was considered "the highest engagement on Twitter for a presidential debate this year." It generated more than 1.9 million tweets using the hashtag #PilipinasDebates2016.

The Commission recorded a historic 84% voter turnout in the 2016 National and Local elections.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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