Re: “Social media fuel Mexican youth protests”By: Jeffrey Fromuth, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Your May 24 article, “Social Media Fuel Mexican Youth Protests,” connects social media platforms to youth protests accompanying the upcoming Mexican elections. However, the article lamentably underplays the increasingly important role that social media has played in Mexican politics since 2006. In the wake of the acrimonious presidential campaign of 2006, Mexico passed a law the following year to restrict language, spending, and campaign length. Although this law introduced an electoral commission that would have to approve attack ads before they aired on television or radio, political campaigns and citizens now routinely use social media to freely criticize candidates.
The Iberoamerican University students’ YouTube response to candidate Nieto illustrates not only how Mexican citizens use social media platforms to criticize candidates—inexpensively and with minimal regulation—but also to counter candidates when they make erroneous statements. Similar to how protesters utilized social media in the Arab Spring, Mexicans during this election cycle are creating alternative narratives to mainstream coverage, influencing young independent voters in the process. (More than a quarter of voters in an April poll were undecided.) Social media and political protest have had an impactive relationship on this election that should not be misrepresented.
Research Associate at the Council of Hemispheric Affairs