Saturday, June 05, 2010

Twitter touted as major force behind opposition victory

Social networking site Twitter played a major role in the surprise opposition victory in South Korean local elections this week, newspapers said Friday.
The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) secured only six out of the 16 posts for provincial governors or city mayors nationwide in Wednesday's vote.

Analysts and politicians agreed that the unexpectedly strong turnout by young and liberal voters worked unfavorably for the ruling party.

Turnout was 54.5 percent, the highest since the country's first local elections in 1995.

Newspapers attributed the surge to Twitter messages exchanged through smart phones among young voters who flocked to the polls, inspired by "go and vote" online postings from friends and celebrities.
"Twitter and other mobile devices appear to have brought more young voters to the booths," Hwang Young-Min, a civic group activist, told the Korea Times.

About 400,000 Koreans, mostly in their 20s and 30s, use Twitter, he said, adding they encouraged one another on the election day.

Kim Chul-Gyun, a presidential aide for new media policies, has played down the role of Twitter.

"People may have urged each other to vote via Twitter, but there is no way of telling how much of an actual influence it had," he said Thursday.
Twitter, which combines the strengths of blogs and instant messaging services, enables users to send and receive short messages of up to 140 characters on personal computers and mobile devices.

Twitter was touted as a major factor behind Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential election in 2008.

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