After three months of watching, hearing, and talking about the political candidates, the Filipino public has elected a new set of government officials in the national and local levels. But what marked the difference for the election this year is the higher level of inclusiveness Filipinos enjoyed through the country?s first-ever #TwitterElection.
Engaging the first-time voters who are heavy social media users, or one-third (17 million) of the country?s 50 million registered voters, is critically important for any candidate to win the election. And the people?s voices have been heard on Twitter with over 35 million elections-related tweets sent since the start of the year, of which over 4 million tweets came on Election Day, May 9, alone.
There was global interest in the Philippines general election and this was reflected in the #TwitterElection conversation, too.
The heatmap abov shows the elections-related conversations on Twitter over the past 30 days from all over the world — from the US to UK to Europe to the Middle East to Asia Pacific — including tweets from many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). For example, the three #PiliPinasDebates2016 Presidential TV debates generated Twitter conversations worldwide, nearly 5 million tweets combined, with the last one on April 24, 2016 shown on the heatmap.
Rishi Jaitly, Twitter?s vice president of media for the Asia Pacific and Middle East, said: ?This has been a special #TwitterElection in the Philippines with its People Power grassroots efforts to get more young Filipinos to participate in the elections, all thanks to Comelec?s partnership to understand how important social media can be for #Pilipinas2016.
?Twitter is the first place Filipinos go to find out what?s happening on the campaign trail as well as to see diverse conversations about the political candidates and election issues. The live conversations on Twitter, from the Presidential TV debates to Election Day, provide the pulse of the nation and enable any Filipino?s voice to be heard around the world.?
As Twitter is often a reflection of society, the most mentioned presidential candidates on Twitter can be a leading indicator of people?s interests.
Over the past seven months (from October 12, 2015 to May 9, 2016), Rodrigo Duterte was the most discussed presidential candidate on Twitter, accounting for 40% of all mentions, almost equal to the next two leading candidates (Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas) combined.
The roar of the crowd was heard on Twitter with over 4 million tweets on Election Day alone, or more than 10% of all elections-related conversations in 2016.
The Twitter conversation peaked at 5,600 tweets per minute at 7:30pm on May 9 as people began talking about the early voting results.
Binay?s supporters were fewer, but more organized and passionate on Twitter, as they tweeted more often to account for nearly the same amount of tweets as Duterte?s supporters. A Twitter data chart for Election Day conversations showed that Binay started strongly, but he faded throughout most of the day.
Meanwhile, Duterte had the opposite reaction by starting slowly and peaking at the end of the polling day. Santiago also built up momentum throughout the day and spiked higher than Duterte when her supporters started questioning why the early polling results showed her in last place. Grace Poe spiked at the end of the day when she conceded defeat.
In fact, some of the most retweeted tweets on Election Day came from young Filipinos expressing their opinions about the early voting results. While they do not have a lot of followers, their tweets resonated with thousands of Filipinos who shared their point of view.
Voting rules violations were also being reported via Twitter on Election Day. Another most shared tweet came from the @Comelec spokesperson?s account:
And of course, Filipinos were proudly showing off their inked fingers on Twitter as a sign of their democratic right to vote for their next set of government leaders: