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Next Elections on Youtube

From Influencer Economy to Influencer Polity In the recent elections, a surprising player emerged on the political stage: YouTube. As traditional media struggled with declining standards and lost touch with the people’s voices, YouTube stepped in, becoming a powerful tool for shaping the narrative against the ruling establishment. Influential YouTubers like Dhruv Rathee saw their […]

From Influencer Economy to Influencer Polity
In the recent elections, a surprising player emerged on the political stage: YouTube. As traditional media struggled with declining standards and lost touch with the people’s voices, YouTube stepped in, becoming a powerful tool for shaping the narrative against the ruling establishment. Influential YouTubers like Dhruv Rathee saw their viewership skyrocket during the elections, highlighting the platform’s growing significance.
Prior to this, many independent journalists turned to YouTube to share their dissenting views, providing an alternative to the often biased coverage of mainstream media. As the landscape of political communication evolves, YouTube is emerging as a formidable platform, shaping narratives and influencing public opinion in ways previously dominated by traditional media. With the rise of the influencer economy on social media, we are now witnessing the dawn of an influencer polity, where YouTubers’ voices on government policies are resonating more profoundly with the masses. There is also a stark shift that has been seen in the last few years, creating an intriguing paradox where television journalists increasingly resort to sensationalism and comedy while standup comedians on YouTube like Kunal Kamra start asking serious questions about government policies through satire.

YouTubers and Politics
Despite its stronghold on traditional media and strategic use of WhatsApp, the BJP was caught off guard by YouTube’s rise. As television media’s credibility declined, more people turned to YouTube for their primary source of information on government policies and real news. Whether this transition was sudden or gradual remains unclear, but the BJP found itself unprepared to manage this new reality. The BJP tried to engage with the YouTube community by arranging interviews with popular podcasters and rewarding pro-government YouTubers. However, many independent YouTubers continued to voice their opposition, steadfast in their commitment despite a lack of recognition. This development suggests that future elections may be heavily influenced by YouTube. Political parties must now adapt to this evolving platform, which has become a crucial space for political awareness, engagement, and participation. Many parties and politicians already maintain YouTube channels, but the platform’s growing importance cannot be ignored.
For now, YouTube serves as an effective platform for highlighting government shortcomings and policy flaws. However, sustainable influence requires more than just opposition for the sake of views. YouTubers can play a crucial role as watchdogs, ensuring government accountability through serious policy discussions. Along with this, the idea of YouTubers entering politics isn’t far-fetched. Just as Bollywood and TV actors have successfully transitioned into politics, popular YouTubers might follow suit in the coming years. This new dynamic presents an opportunity for YouTubers to prepare for the next election cycle. A strategic approach for YouTube channels involves building a hierarchy of content creators addressing local, national, and international issues. Independent YouTubers focusing on local concerns in cities, suburbs, and villages can gain substantial followings by highlighting real progress and holding local politicians accountable.

The Politics of Technology
For the establishment, recognising the critical views emerging on social media is essential to staying connected with public sentiment. A biased and controlled media landscape alienates the government itself from the masses, creating the need for genuine engagement with diverse perspectives. The new government must understand that nationalism and religious rhetoric are not sustainable, long-term strategies. The internet, initially provided by the government to enhance communication, has evolved into a diverse content ecosystem. People consume a wide range of content, from politics to entertainment and education. Social media has fueled aspirations across India, even in remote areas where people watch content from Western countries and Indian metropolises. This exposure has heightened dissatisfaction, especially among the youth. Future governments must address these aspirations to win votes. Rising inequality drives discontent, and policies aimed at uplifting poorer populations—such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) and more investment in welfare schemes, employment, and quality public services—are likely to resonate with voters.
One of YouTube’s most significant advantages is its significant resistance to complete government control. The intricate and ever-evolving AI algorithms that power the platform present a challenge even to the engineers who design them, making total control by an entity nearly impossible. However, as history has shown with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, political entities may eventually find ways to exploit these platforms for their own benefit. This underscores the urgent need for technological investigative journalism to uncover and expose algorithmic vulnerabilities. Building an ecosystem of tech journalists, engineers, and politicians dedicated to making the internet more inclusive and unbiased is crucial today.
Integrating technology into the political agenda is essential if politics is to thrive on technological platforms. It is insufficient to use tech platforms merely to scrutinise government functions; we must also address who controls the technology, who gets representation, and what data is used where. Data justice should be the foundation of this technology-driven political landscape. Currently, most tech YouTubers and journalists focus on product launches, startup funding, and news from big tech companies. There is a scarcity of investigative work scrutinizing the implementation of tech products and the advanced AI algorithms that function behind them. The current AI buzzword, with its potential for political manipulation and bias, requires vigilant oversight.

Resurrecting the fourth pillar
YouTubers have begun highlighting government policy flaws, providing a valuable service that can support a robust opposition. Given that parliamentary sessions may not always allow the opposition to question the government effectively, YouTube can serve as an alternative platform for raising public issues. The platform’s user-based monetization model is another significant advantage, allowing YouTubers to generate revenue directly from their viewers rather than relying on advertisements, as traditional TV news channels do.
Several YouTubers covering political events face multifaceted challenges in their pursuit of success. While many remain vulnerable to hostility and criticism from fellow creators, particularly in the early stages of their careers, the primary hurdle remains capturing and retaining the public’s attention. This is especially critical given the platform’s diverse content offerings. Although YouTube offers short-form videos, it is primarily known for its long-form content. With decreasing attention spans, delivering impactful political content in just a few seconds will become a crucial skill. This demands a deep understanding of society, politics, and technology. To thrive in this environment, creators must possess a nuanced understanding of societal dynamics, political landscapes, and technological advancements. Those who master these skills are likely to become highly influential. Looking ahead, digital rallies in the metaverse could redefine political engagement, with politicians delivering virtual speeches and outlining their agendas online.
In conclusion, as YouTube cements its role in political discourse, fostering a balanced ecosystem of technological and political understanding is essential. This will ensure that the platform remains a vibrant space for democratic engagement and accountability, ultimately contributing to a more informed and participatory society. Political parties must adapt to this evolving landscape, recognizing the power of digital platforms in shaping public opinion and policy discourse. The dream of seeing educated and aware politicians may come true if individuals with a deep understanding of ground-level issues and policies step forward, ensuring that YouTube remains a vibrant space for democracy and change.

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