A persistent challenge to a campaign is to tell a real threat from a feint. While it was difficult to do so promptly in the traditional medial landscape, digital social media offers both data and tools to precisely diagnose influence. As the COVID pandemic moves the Philippines, we look at the social sentiment across a nation dominated by Facebook usage.
Before COVID, President Duterte commands high national support, show by the absolute domination of his endorsed Senatorial candidates and the subsequent polling conducted by Publicus Asia. With the popular perception of a strong and decisive leader, President Duterte seems poised to tackle the COVID crisis. We examine two recent viral peaks and their compositions; #oustduterenow and the counterparty, #istandwiththepresident.
The recent rise of #oustduterenow has the hallmark of a grassroots movement; steady and widespread resonance across multiple fan pages. This collective sentiment seems to be a reaction against the administration's handling of the COVID situation, building on the existing anti-presidential attitude. The lack of coordination and the diversity of the topics indicate this nascent movement has yet to solidify into a useful force but shows great potential for it. What is interesting is the unassociated relationship between the post and the emotional reactions, not driven by the number of posts but something that indicated a well-thought-out philosophical basis.
In contrast, the #istandwiththepresident's appear suddenly as a solidarity movement with the president, its structure reveals it to be a parasitic attempt to co-op the president's popularity. The post-to-reaction shows this is a very propaganda-driven campaign, with specific post agitating reaction, yet there is no substance once the propaganda is silent. When we look at the channel of influence, the #istandwiththepresident consists of two main fan pages, Chito Samontina and DJ Kokoy Martin. Interestingly, the president's best known social media advocate, Mocha Uson, placed fourth. This is interesting, consider that Chinto generated 85,301.2 reactions based on a 296K followers with one post, DJ Kokoy Martin generated 44,022.3 reactions with 39 posts with a following of 335K followers, while Mocha Uson generated 4,794.3 reactions with 8 posts, at the following of 5,909K followers. This disconnect in performance and quality. coupled with its lack of wide acceptance outside of its primary group, has not gained support across the channels and it is more of a vanity campaign or a type of parasitic campaign that latches onto a specific trending topic or oppose it by exploiting the unfocused anti-sentiment against the campaign.
One of the challenges for media and professions that depend on public opinion to achieve their objectives is the difficulty of measure influence and response on social media without a severe amount of data analysis. AutoPolitic provides this type of influence analysis based on social intelligence provided for by bigdata and proprietary models. The two movements, with a distinct character, are part of an ongoing social response to COVID and as a bellwether for the 2022 election. While some publicity stuns can temporarily capture the attention of the public, it is their stable and longitudinal attitude that makes for better predictors of the electoral outcome.