Text Mesaaging as a Political Tool

Text Messging is IN ! It is really not so new in Asia where everyone seems to own a cell phone for some weird reason. This brngs to mind something that happened in Manila in 2001 when the people of the Philippines used text messaging to depose then Philippine President Joseph Erap Estrada.

It was called the first peaceful “TEXT REVOLUTION” in the world. It started in January of 2001 when everyone with a cellphone received cell messages exposing the corruption of the regime. Text messages were political jokes, so-called “secrets” and plain gossip. These messages also came with the request “please forward” , which meant that one had the option to forward the message to all those in his/her cell phone directory.

While the Philippine Senate then was voting on the impeachment of their president, everyone seemed to get a text message urging them to go and form some sort of “people power” at EDSA highway which was where the two main military camps were located. After three days millions of people demanding the ouster of their president were in the streets with their cellphones.The crowd reached four million in two days because of “text messaging power”. On the third day, January 17, 2001, the military from both camps decided to back the millions of people who were camped for the last three days and nights in the streets. On the same day, the Philippine president was forced to resign and handover power peacefully to his Vice President (now President) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Can text messaging be used as a political tool? YES. If text messaging was capable of bringing together the critical mass of a political crowd capable of toppling a President, then I would think that it can be a powerful political medium. Of course, a lot depends on the culture of the people but in Asia, text messages are taken seriously whether they are plain gossip or valid news. The same could work in the Western world , after all, don’t most wetsern texters subscribe to mobile news like CNN or BBC to know if there is anything “big” happening?

Anyone for Text Messaging against the war in Iraq? Or Anti Abortion causes? I wonder. But it really isn’t such a bad idea.

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