DRI Tunisia and the Tunisian Association for Integrity and Democracy of Elections (ATIDE) have just published a report that summarizes findings from monitoring the 2019 legislative and presidential election campaigns on social media between 15 May and 13 October 2019.
With 7.4 million users, Facebook is by far the social media that is most used by Tunisians. It is also their main source of information on electoral matters. Because of the unique platform Facebook offers to political actors, DRI and ATIDE decided to monitor how electoral campaigning took place on it for the presidential and legislative elections of 2019.
The most highlighted finding was that while they may contribute to electoral victory and spark debates online, political advertising on social media is no substitute for political engagement with voters in real life.
Another important finding was that a large part of the political campaigning that took place on Facebook was conducted by undeclared political actors, and therefore went undetected by official monitoring bodies such as the ISIE or HAICA.
These findings were presented during a dedicated panel event in Tunis on 12 February 2020. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session and recommendations to different actors in Tunisia’s political scene.
Two notable recommendations were addressed to ISIE and Facebook:
- Facebook should build a proper Ads Library for Tunisia, on a par with what it provides in other countries. This Ads Library should provide a history of all political sponsored messages (past and current) for each page and should provide a full, open-access report that allows anyone to "explore, filter and download data for ads about social issues, elections or politics. See overall spending totals, spending by specific advertisers and spend data by geographic location".
- Facebook should enforce Tunisian electoral regulations, notably, during electoral silence days, by refusing sponsored political messages and making efforts to take down political messages from identified political or party pages.
- ISIE should revise electoral regulations to better account for the fact that a large part of political campaigning now takes place on social media.
Read the full report below.