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Twitter gears up to play a bigger political role in Latin America

Brazil’s elections are looming, and Twitter is using the opportunity to increase its foothold in Latin America through the power of social media.

From the Arab Spring to the Grant Shapps bingo controversy to John McCain flirting with the cast of Jersey Shore, Twitter holds a special place in the political landscape of many countries.

Not only can it work against parties and politicians if they tweet a serious faux pas, but it can also be a powerful tool for communication and engagement.

 

Although debates about whether Twitter is “good for democracy” have been going on for years, the social media giant itself is in no doubt that it can be a force for good when it comes to getting voters involved with current affairs.

In fact, the company has sent one of its top political strategists to Brazil ahead of the nation’s elections to explain how politicians can use the site to engage voters.

Reuters reports that Adam Sharp is in Brazil to promote the use of Twitter as a working tool for governments seeking to “increase the scope and speed” of their campaigns, getting their messages out to thousands or even millions of users at a time. That also creates the potential for conversations, where followers can challenge and ask questions of their leaders and receive responses.

 

Some politicians have already caught on, Mr Sharp explains.

After Twitter became a tool in organising demonstrations against president Dilma Rousseff’s administration last year, she reactivated her Twitter account and began running question and answer sessions online with 2.3 million followers.

Similarly, Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez has 2.7 million followers, but is surpassed the 2.8 million followers attracted by Colombia’s leader Juan Manuel Santos.

Emerging markets across Latin America are growing quickly, and Brazil is one of the company’s largest global markets, so it makes sense that Twitter is using one of the biggest talking points in the country this year to promote its unique form of communication. But with Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, and Bolivia all due to hold elections later this year (El Salvador held a vote in March), it will be hoping that other governments follow Brazil’s lead.


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