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Does the social media reveal true character?
Elections are a perfect time to share opinions. Over the past two months, Bangkokians have learned more about prospective candidates thanks to their extended election campaigns, as they have been trotting to all areas and corners of the capital meeting people with different needs.Other than using gimmicks created by their campaign teams, candidates have also been using infographics to explain their ideas.
One such graphic depicts the salary of a Bangkok governor over four years, which amounts to about Bt5 million, and compares it to the Bt49 million allowed as campaign budget. The graphic, quite rightly, asks why a candidate would spend so much for the post.
Another graphic shows how Bangkok's 10,000 tonnes of solid waste can be turned into almost Bt80 million cash daily if it is recycled.
On one candidate's Facebook page, we see ideas about changing the city's demographics by turning the north to an international transportation and logistics centre, promoting tourism and arts along the Chao Phraya River and maintaining old areas in the west.
Another candidate illustrates how a closed-circuit camera network and some additional infrastructure can help solve Bangkok's traffic problems. The use of bicycles has also been discussed more and more seriously this time.
Now whether these ideas get implemented is another story, though ideas can be shared and developed. After all, sharing problems can bring forgotten issues back to the top.
In a way, these candidates have been able to use social media as public platforms.
Since registering their candidacy in January, the "likes" on two candidates' Facebook pages has risen from about 40,000 to 130,000-140,000. However, the number of their Twitter followers is very different.
Of course, followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook may not always translate into votes, but at least they are indicative of people's interest and exposure of candidates to social-media users.
However, all campaigning, be it physical or virtual, has to stop by 6pm today. The candidates can only be seen casting their ballot. And though only one person can win the governor's post, the other 24 candidates and their supporters can perhaps continue improving Bangkok and sharing ideas via social media.
Although not every governor candidate operated his or her own social-media account, these pages were a good reflection of their character.
For instance, there is one candidate who has 70,000 followers, but he follows up to 600 tweeple himself compared to other candidates who follow only about a dozen or so. Perhaps this shows that the man cares about what others have to say.
Another candidate, who started campaigning early, only has about 1,400 followers and though he has only tweeted about few hundred messages, at least he has shown consistency. Also, interestingly, this 60-year-old candidate also follows young Thai pop-star Nichkhun Horvejkul.
In comparison, another candidate only promotes what he wants to do or where he is going each day but he never retweets other people's messages or answers any questions.
Let us hope that once the voting is completed tomorrow, the social media does not get deserted and Bangkokians can continue playing a more active role in monitoring what's going on around the city.