The Future of Election Campaigning: The Virtual Battleground

The Future of Election Campaigning: The Virtual Battleground

Nachdem sich einige Kommentatoren über den GR- Artikel über Fake Pron shitstormmäßig aufregten, dass wir die Sache nicht zu ernst nehmen würden, sei all ihnen gesagt: Ja, tun wir auch nicht so, wenn es sich um Promis , die sich wehren können handelt, während das bei einfacheren Leuten, die kaum Resourcen haben sich gegen Cybermobbing zu wehren, eben anders ist . Aber die Hauptgefahr kommt nicht von Fake Porn, eher von deep fake und auch der Verwendung in Wahlkampagnen und ähnlichem. Aber all das hängt auch mit der zunehmenden „Bullshitgläubigkeit“ auch selbst sogenannt gebildeter Menschen zusammen, die andere als „fehlende Medienkompetenz bemäkeln, wenngleich nun Heerscharen von Kommunikationswissenschaftlern ins Feld geschickt werden, die aber selbst keine Contents“liefern können, eben Politik. Nun hat Dr. Sachsenröder einen ganz guten Beitrag geschrieben, der nicht satirisch ist, mehr bei den Manipulationsmethoden ohne Betrachtung der Contents angesiedelt ist, die regionalen Unterschiede zwischen Wahlkampagnen hervorhebt und von solchen Empörungsgeistern als Angebot dann als seriöser empfunden werden könnte. Desweiteren wollen wir noch darauf hinweisen, dass Dr. Sachsenröders Illustrationsbild mit Microsoft 11- Bing- KI gemacht wurde, nicht dass da weitere Beschwerden erhoben werden.

The Future of Election Campaigning: The Virtual Battleground

Author: DR. Wolfgag Sachsenröder

Posted on 

As the saying goes, power corrupts. But the corruption starts or at least tends to start long before the power has been assumed, namely in the election campaigns. Probably, there is no country with a really level playing field for elections in this world. The spoils of power are attractive in the rich countries, where they can be massive, and likewise in the poorest countries, where they might matter even more. The social status and nimbus of a leader is already a perk of sorts, the ability to make decisions for others and to expect their respect and obeisance can create anything between drug-like effects and aphrodisiacs.  When Winston Churchill was asked what he was missing the most after being voted out of his premiership in 1945 despite his towering role during WWII, was the sarcasm “transportation”. But everybody who has travelled with top officials will remember this special feeling of privileged transportation.

As a logical consequence, election campaigns can be, and often are, extremely competitive, while seducing many of the players to forget about normal civil fairness. The political cultures, of course, differ from country to country, which means that very different levels of unfairness are possible, often enough ranging from defamation and character assassination to physical assaults like stabbing, poisoning, and shooting.

In Southeast Asia, so far, relatively traditional forms and techniques of election campaigning may be prevailing. Incredible amounts of campaign posters are still in widespread use. Popular leaders and candidates are pulling huge crowds and not so popular ones can hire cheering fake supporters from skilled campaign entrepreneurs. But the traditional media are increasingly losing attraction among the voting masses, newspapers and state-controlled TV stations are no longer the transmitters between the campaigning politicians and their target groups. With the Internet and smart phone penetration reaching even remote areas, more and more voters, especially the younger ones, are getting their political information from social media. And, no surprise, this is exactly the entry point for new trends in marketing, including political campaigning. But at the same time, as the technical opportunities have opened the floodgates for criminal online scams of all sorts and shapes, they attract election campaigners, fair and unfair alike. Why should skilled campaigners not generate thousands of votes if criminals can cheat unsuspecting internet surfers of millions of dollars.

Here are some examples of campaign trends around the world which may give a preview of what Southeast Asia can expect in the next few years, if the tech savvy region should not be even more advanced already.

The newest development first: In the American presidential primaries, deep fake campaigns have already arrived. In the recent New Hampshire primaries, a fake version of President Joe Biden’s voice has been used automatically generated robocalls to discourage Democrats from taking part. As unusual it may sound that the president makes phone call to single voters, the message might influence a sizeable number of voters, nevertheless. As CNN reports, while the audio appears to be fake, it sounds just like the president and even uses his trademark “malarkey” catchphrase. 
NB: You can listen to this fake call here: Fake Joe Biden robocall urges New Hampshire voters not to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primary | CNN Politics
Local candidates in municipal and state elections will probably not resist the temptation of using robocalls. Campaign propaganda in the form of E-mails is common enough for a long time already. For the U.S. presidential campaign, Donie O’Sullivan, CNN’s correspondent covering both politics and technology, predicts an explosion of AI-generated disinformation. Artificial Intelligence has made the upgrading from fake to deepfake so easy that practically anybody can download the necessary program from the Internet and create videos which look authentic for most recipients.
The trend is especially dangerous for the U.S. because the legitimacy of elections and the orderly and peaceful transfer of power has been undermined by Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 U.S. election was stolen. According to recent polls, nearly 70 per cent of Republicans question the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. The assumption that Russia had influenced or manipulated this election has never been proven but was popular enough for the media to be repeated for many months.
Another related incident is brand-new and all over the media, especially with the war In Ukraine being discussed controversially in Germany. End of January, a news magazine reported that Internet experts of the Foreign Office have detected no less than 50.000 fake accounts on social media platform X, trying to stir anger at Berlin’s support for Ukraine.

In Southeast Asia, the election triumph of President Marcos in June 2022 was reportedly facilitated, among others, by thousands of occasional volunteers who could make a few bucks with their smart phones during the campaign.
The social media scene, however, is changing very fast. This is evident in the number of followers of the candidates in the ongoing presidential campaign in Indonesia. While front-runner Prabowo has 10 million followers on Facebook, 6.7 Million on Instagram and none on TikTok, his much younger vice-presidential candidate Gibran has only 173.000 on “old-fashioned Facebook, 1.4 million on Instagram and 446,900 on TikTok. It looks like a mirror of the generation gap with Facebook something for the older generation. But middle-aged PDI-P candidate Ganjar Pranowo, born in 1968, is the champion on TikTok with remarkable 7.1 million followers in December last year. They are all fighting on the virtual battleground, though posters and rallies are still an important and expensive part of the campaign.   

The Future of Election Campaigning: The Virtual Battleground | Political Party Forum Southeast Asia (

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