Presidential election 2010: Archiving campaign websites of key candidates

Mahinda Rajapakse, who went on to win and Sarath Fonseka were two key candidates in Sri Lanka’s presidential election held on 26 January 2010. For around six week, the websites archived here on 27 January 2010 contained information on issues, policies and practices championed by both candidates. They also carried the usual propaganda and counter-propaganda.

These archives don’t include the content on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, along with entries in Wikipedia.

Of interest here is http://www.sfbalakaya.com, set up as a spoof with the clear intent of deriding Sarath Fonseka in the guise of being his official website. This site was particularly pernicious because of its publication of completely false information pegged to real individuals and organisations.

I’ve written in detail about my Websites at risk initiative here.

    Social media: An introduction to practical uses during elections

    I delivered a lecture at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism today on the use of social media in election reporting. The presentation I based my interactive lecture on is below. Aspect of the up-coming Presidential Elections are unprecedented in any number of ways. A point about it is that both leading candidates use social media to a degree that no other election in Sri Lanka has witnessed in the past. My submission was that literacy in social and new media is thus a perquisite in covering these elections, both to critically appreciate content produced by and placed online by candidates, as well as to gather information on election violence and other outrageous malpractices.

    I also used the lecture to suggest that the participants, leading mid-career journalists from print as well as electronic media in Sri Lanka, could use these tools to create media of their own, responding to issues they thought were under-reported, or were hostage to the bias of an editor, publisher or owner.