SNS play a key role in shaping public opinion

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SNS play a key role in shaping public opinion

With Korea’s high rate of connectivity to the Internet, social networking services have had an impact on this year’s election in both positive and negative ways.

According to a poll conducted by Nielsen Korea in February, 85.1 percent of respondents said SNS influenced their voting decision.

A series of famous celebrities yesterday posted photos of themselves on their Facebook or Twitter accounts, urging people to exercise their voting rights.

As it is illegal to post a photo of a voter showing support for a certain candidate, the celebrities usually posted photos of themselves at local polling places.

Lee Hyo-ri, an icon of hot, fashionable female singers, uploaded a photo of herself in a black winter coat, a pair of sunglasses and fancy leggings and a cap, posing in front of a polling station in Seoul.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon posted a photo of himself on his Facebook account on Tuesday, holding a banner that reads “Do you wonder what our tomorrow will be? If you do, then vote!”

However, groundless rumors also spread on the online network platforms before the election, casting a shadow over the role of SNS.

The National Election Commission yesterday advised people to not be confused by erroneous information disseminated through the Internet, such as: “The voting hour has been extended to 8 p.m.”; “Elderly people should vote in the afternoon”; and “Handicapped people or the elderly can use ambulances to move to the polling stations if they have trouble getting there.”

Allegations regarding the two presidential front-runners, Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in, also spread.

Last week, the head of a major polling company was upset over groundless rumors about his company. Lee Taek-soo, the head of Realmeter, said that he will take legal measures against people retweeting the rumor that he received 500 million won ($465,766) from Park in return for manipulating polls conducted by his company in favor of her.

“There’s even a popular novelist among people retweeting the rumor,” Lee said on Twitter on Dec. 11. “Our lawyer is now monitoring all of the people spreading it and planning to accuse all of them.”

The novelist he mentioned was Gong Ji-young, renowned female writer of “Dogani,” or “Crucible,” an influential figure on Twitter, followed by roughly 500,000.

She wasn’t the one who initially posted the rumor, but she retweeted it.

Gong apologized for her reckless retweeting to Lee. She posted on his account saying “I’m so sorry to irresponsibly RT [retweet] the mention. I have deleted it and urged my followers to delete theirs as well.”

Kim Yong-min, a host of the liberal podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda,” or “I’m a Petty-Minded Creep,” also tweeted on Dec. 13 that “Saenuri’s Park has had ties with a heretical Christianity sect, dubbed ‘Sincheonji’ [meaning New Frontier in Korean, a synonym of the word ‘Saenuri’] for about 20 years.”

Although the Saenuri Party publicly denied the allegation, a photo of a new year’s card spread through SNS services with the claim that Park sent it to the religious sect’s leader.

The DUP’s Moon also was the victim of some rumors, mostly regarding North Korean affairs.

One of them says Moon’s campaign slogan, “People are the top priority,” is based on North Korea’s juche (self-reliance) ideology. Others say Moon’s father was a soldier in a North Korean army unit, because his family took refuge in the South during the 1950-53 Korean War.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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