The UGM Center for Digital Society has released its findings on the 2024 election trends from the social media platform X. One of the results indicates the presence of cyber troop movements in all presidential candidates.
“This reflects the similarity among the three candidates who are paying attention to campaigns on social media,” explained Agung Tri Nugraha, the Research Manager of the UGM Center for Digital Society, at a press conference themed “Presidential Candidate Trends on X: Opinion Warfare, Cyber Troops, and Jokowi’s ‘Cawe-cawe’” at the Digital Intelligence Lab at the UGM Faculty of Social Sciences, Wednesday (September 27).
Nugraha stated that this finding strengthens research previously released by the Oxford Internet Institute in 2019 titled “Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation” and Sastramidjaja and Wijayanto (2022) on Cyber Troops, Online Manipulation of Public Opinion, and the Co-Optation of Indonesia’s Cybersphere.
He explained that the center’s research was conducted to respond to current trends that influence online discussions and support for political figures in Indonesia.
The center collected data from the X platform from July to August 2023. The data included tweets, comments, and interactions related to the 2024 presidential election and current political issues.
“We collected a total of 59,155 posts using several keywords related to the 2024 election, presidential candidates, and political parties. After removing duplicate posts, we were left with 50,503 posts,” he said.
Another finding shows a significant negative sentiment towards President Joko Widodo in online conversations. In the analysis of negative sentiment posts, “Jokowi” appears as one of the dominant terms.
“As a result, further analysis of the term ‘Jokowi’ found the top 10 trigrams, dominated by ‘cawe-cawe Jokowi,’ ‘cawe-cawe capres,’ ‘capres didukung Jokowi,’ and ‘Jokowi dukung Ganjar,’” he explained.
Furthermore, the manager discussed the interactions of X users regarding political figures in Indonesia. The presidential candidates who will compete in the 2024 election did not escape the attention.
Based on the research, Prabowo Subianto emerged as the Gerindra presidential candidate who was mentioned the most without being tagged in tweets and comments by X netizens.
“After conducting an in-depth analysis, we found that duplicate posts related to Prabowo were posted by a single account 101 times. This pattern is different from duplicate posts with positive sentiment, which were duplicated by an average of more than five accounts,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the social network analysis of the PDIP presidential candidate, Ganjar Pranowo received the most mentions and replies compared to other presidential candidates, followed by Anies.
“Ganjar is the presidential candidate mentioned and replied to the most. As for posts related to Ganjar, they are dominated by keywords and hashtags like ‘ganjarcapres,’ posted by five accounts. Negative sentiment posts involve more than seven accounts per post, which is different from Prabowo,” he explained.
Agung Tri Nugraha also explained that the highest interactions in posts and comments on X were in the Anies Baswedan audience cluster.
From a social network analysis, especially in the top modularity classes, the Anies cluster, dominated by accounts @aniesbaswedan, @pdemokrat, and @bachrumachmadi, created the most active cluster with a 12.28% interaction rate.
“Based on these findings, we believe that social media, especially X, will play a key role in the 2024 election,” he said.
Considering this situation, Nugraha presented several recommendations from the UGM Center for Digital Society.
First, political elites and parties should use social media as a positive campaigning tool to create a healthier democratic climate.
Second, political elites and parties should use social media to contest ideas, ideologies, and visions rather than spread negative campaigns. Although negative campaigns are not legally prohibited, they should be based on valid and accountable data.
Third, the government and social media platforms should proactively counter disinformation content to limit its spread quickly.
“People are encouraged to be more critical of issues, trends, and content that suddenly emerges massively. Avoid falling into hate speech that can trigger division and polarization,” he concluded.