Representatives of political parties agree that social media is strong, but say they have no anonymous users
| Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu
Having seen the influence of social media in the 2013 general elections, representatives of political parties agree that social media should be used positively in the forthcoming elections of 2018, as a medium for information dissemination and dialogue.
According to the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) Secretary General (SG), who is also the aspirant party candidate from Gangzur-Mingay constituency in Lhuentshi, Sonam Jatsho, social media such as Facebook, Wechat and Tweeter are essential elements to communicate with party members and voters.
“Due to development and accessibility of technological innovations like smart phones, the mediums of communication has changed, making social media a very essential tool for discourse and discussion,” he said. Underlining that the PDP is making good use of social media “to provide information and also to share positive messages to the citizen,” Sonam Jatsho mentioned that the Party’s President, Prime Minister (PM) Dasho Tshering Tobgay is an avid user of social media. He further said that the PM uses social media to share important information and convey positive messages to the public.
“We also use social media’s as a tool to inform the people about our achievements and further plans,” he added.
On the darker side of social media, especially anonymous users, PDP’s SG replied that the party does not have any anonymous users. He informed that the Party’s President has made it very clear that such measures will not be permitted. Calling it dirty politics, PDP’s SG called anonymous users as ones “who provide wrong information hiding behind the mask, with an intention to blame someone for doing nothing wrong.”
“If they have guts and if they are right they would provide information not blame others hiding their identity,” he added, saying that he believes that no political party will play dirty politics in the Gross National Happiness (GNH) country like Bhutan.
Similarly, SG of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT)Tenzin Lekphell, said that social media had and will be playing multiple roles in the 2018 elections, since it is easier, faster and cheaper compared to other forms of media.
On anonymous users, Tenzin Lekphell said that it is not right to say that such users are from political parties. “Anonymous users may or may not be from political parties,” he said, adding that Bhutan’s politicians do not play dirty politics like others. For DNT, anonymous users are some citizens who want to create disharmony in the society.
According to DNT’s SG, they do not entertain anonymous users in their party. “We are against it and we hope that other parties also feel the same,” he said.
Like PDP and DNT, SG of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Ugyen Dorji, said that although social media was useful in the 2013 election, the scenario in 2018 would be different, with the emergence “of several outlets like Wechat, Viber and others.”
“Many illiterate villagers can also now make use of social media like Wechat as it is user friendly,” he added.
Similar to the other two parties, he also said that DPT has no anonymous users. Ugyen Dorji underscored that the political environment in the country had made people doubt “about political parities having anonymous users to attack each other.”