Lebanese Politics and Social Media: A Quick Review – The most successful influencers are the most extreme. 73% of tweets about politics are created by about 6% of Twitter users and those 6% have very extreme views as reported by NBC News.
But we cannot overlook the fact that users do click on extreme content so the algorithm of Facebook or Twitter or Youtube will show them more extreme content. It doesn’t matter if you follow Left or Right, the content will come to you depending on what you engage with till you start seeing post from Bigfoot believers! The algorithms are simply created to grab our attention.
Does this apply to Lebanon? The general rule implies that the algorithm works in the same pattern in Lebanon as well. Unfortunately there are no scientific studies to measure the type of content published with its moderation or extremism. What we know is Twitter penetration in the Lebanese market is very low compared to Youtube, Facebook or Instagram. 5.35 millions of the Lebanese population are social media users according to GlobalWebIndex (GSMA intelligence) And Twitter reported that 11% of its users in Lebanon are reachable by advertising while the total number of users does not cross the 400K limit. The bigger playground is Facebook, even WhatsApp. Ayman Mhanna, director of the Samir Kassir Eyes Center for Media Freedom stated in an interview that WhatsApp groups in particular have facilitated coordination and mass mobilization.
Nevertheless, the most “epic” political battles are fought on Twitter. In addition to this, media, news agencies and websites do get part of their news and content from public figures and KOLs on Twitter. Intelligence agencies of many countries create sentiment analysis of different political groups from Twitter as well. But that’s about it. Political parties should re-invent their strategies in order to reach their goals, specially those who are using bots to boost a hashtag’s “number-of-mentions” during specific campaigns. What they are missing is simply:
1- The right content and the related vehicles (short videos, or stories, or reels, or visuals, etc.)
2- The channels of communication (including the Social Media platforms) that will spread those vehicles and the investment necessary for it.
3- Their brand identity with the science and consistency in presenting it to the audience.
On the other hand, we are witnessing an increase in the number of fake Facebook pages and YouTube channels promoting content for some of the ruling groups. Some pages are named after the revolution, etc. But the main problem remains the same, the quality of content.
What is more dangerous are the “miss-leading” economic analysis by different “newly-created” public figures / influencers facing the public opinion. We have seen a great deal of new theories and recommendations all into the same direction, ultimately to downgrade the severity of our situation, but that is going beyond Social Media into Lebanese traditional media and TVs covering a much greater audience.