[photo credit - eurasianet.org]
Between 12 March 2021 and 9 April 2021, Media Development Center, a Kyrgyz media organization, and MEMO 98, a Slovak non-profit specialist media-monitoring organization, monitored social media in the run-up to the 11 April local elections.
The main purpose of this monitoring was to determine the impact of social media on electoral integrity and the extent to which social media provide important information that voters need in their decision-making. Television is the primary source of information about politics, but the growing relevance of social media has to be acknowledged, and so we continued with the monitoring of Facebook and Instagram. We were interested in determining to what extent are social media used in Kyrgyzstan during elections. MEMO 98 and Media Development Center (MDC) monitored social media prior to the 4 October parliamentary elections as well as the 10 January 2021 early presidential election.
There are an estimated 2.5 million social media users in Kyrgyzstan which is approximately 40 percent of the population (comparing to 22 percent of social media users in the Central Asia region), with a 2.1 million Instagram audience and 610,000 Facebook audience (people that can be reached by either Facebook or Instagram ads on the respective platforms).
The monitoring included Facebook and Instagram accounts of actors within four categories (politicians, political parties, authorities, and media). Out of the initial list of 25 political parties that were contesting local elections in the capital Bishkek, leaders of these parties and president Japarov; 3 officials, local election-related, authorities, the monitoring eventually included those actors who had public pages or accounts on Facebook and Instagram at the time of the monitoring. Such accounts were found for 8 politicians, 21 political parties, and 3 official institutions on Facebook, and 22 politicians, 20 political parties, and 2 official bodies on Instagram.
Politicians, parties, official authorities produced a total of 2,519 posts on Facebook and 2,153 on Instagram. These posts generated as many 286,407 interactions on Facebook and 1,816,570 on Instagram.