THE Commission on Elections said Monday it had signed a deal with the social messaging giant Twitter to generate reports from voters over any violations of campaign rules by candidates in the May 9 national and local elections.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista announced the partnership along with Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s vice president for media in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Jaitly said this was the “first real partnership” that Twitter had announced in the Philippines.
He said the Philippines was “one of their fastest-growing markets,” with the site noticing the “enthusiasm” of Filipino users, and notably the so-called AlDub phenomenon or the fans of Eat Bulaga’s Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza breaking several records in Twitter.
For the 2016 elections, the social networking site will provide “premium services” to help the Comelec address complaints and encourage engagements during the scheduled election debates.
Jaitly said those services would include “access to a whole range” including software, technology, data and analytics to enable the poll body to better monitor engagement as needed.
“We’ll be providing insight data and visualization that help represent the pulse of the country and the viewers with respect to what is top of mind during the debates,” Jaitly said in a press conference.
He said people would also be given a chance to interact.
“Our users will have a chance to tweet any irregularities seen on the ground,” Jaitly said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there will be a relaunch of their #SumbongKo campaign before the start of the campaign period on Feb. 9.
“One of the things we are looking at is learning how to use the Twitter dashboard, specifically to aggregate the incident reports we will be getting. We tried this in 2013 with #SumbongKo,” Jimenez said.
However, this time the Comelec would be getting ample assistance from the Twitter management itself, Jimenez said.
He said while the public complaints sent through the social media could not be used as evidence against any erring candidate, it could be used as a lead by the Comelec.
“At the very least, the Comelec will treat it as an initiatory document,” Jimenez said.
“Once someone sends us information, we can verify it and come out with a case against the candidate.”
In the 2013 polls, the Comelec sent notices to several national, party-lists and local candidates after people complained that they had illegal campaign posters and then sent pictures of those to the poll body through the social media.
Aside from the online public grievance system, Bautista said, their partnership with Twitter would also let them hold more inclusive presidential debates by using the power of social media.
“We look forward to working with Twitter to make the presidential debates more accessible to millions of Filipinos,” he said.
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