Mobilising voters through social media in the U.S., Taiwan and Hong Kong

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama seized victory in part due to his campaign’s innovative usage of social media to energise his supporters.[1] Obama’s success with his campaign website and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has altered the course of election campaigning in the U.S. and around the world. For example, social media played a prominent role in the 2016 Taiwan presidential election, ultimately won by President Tsai Ing-wen.[2] And social media has already made an impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with both the Republican nominee Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton making extensive use of Facebook and Twitter to engage with their followers.[3]

Social media is also used in Hong Kong’s political sphere. Of course, it is difficult to compare presidential elections in the U.S. and Taiwan with Chief Executive elections in Hong Kong, since the Chief Executive is not elected with universal suffrage.[4] No previous candidates for Chief Executive were publicly active on social media accounts. As such, with regards to social media in local politics, it is arguably more appropriate to compare foreign presidential elections with Legislative Council (LegCo) elections, since most members of the LegCo are elected with universal suffrage.[5] Indeed, many candidates running for the geographic constituency seats in this year’s LegCo elections are active Facebook users, sharing videos, links and campaign posters with their followers while expressing their views on contemporary topics.

In December 2015 and January 2016, the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre (the Centre) had the privilege of participating in numerous meetings with members of Taiwanese political parties such as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) prior to the Taiwanese presidential and legislative elections. During these meetings, the Centre was able to gain valuable insight into the social media strategies of Taiwanese politicians. With the LegCo elections coming up, we believe it is fitting at this time to draw upon our recent experience in Taiwan and compare social media usage by politicians in Taiwan, the U.S. and Hong Kong elections. We will begin by analysing the 2008 U.S. presidential election and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign before turning to the 2016 Taiwanese presidential election and concluding with a discussion on the ramifications of social media on the 2016 LegCo election.

The “Facebook Election:” How Obama used social media and his website to win youth voters

In 2008, President Barack Obama pioneered the usage of social media as part of his campaign strategy. His resounding victory in 2008 over the Republican nominee John McCain has been coined the “Facebook election,” due to the fact that he managed to capture the support of the “Facebook generation” of voters under the age of 25. Obama’s strength amongst the youth electorate was historic: exit polls in 2008 by news organisations such as NBC News showed that he won 70% of the vote from voters under the age of 25. This represents the highest percentage of youth support for any candidate since 1976, when news agencies first began exit polling.[6]

During the 2008 campaign, Obama maintained active Facebook, Myspace and Twitter accounts[7] with millions of followers on Facebook and MySpace.[8] Social media allowed Obama to create an intimate relationship with his supporters, especially young voters who represented the primary demographic of social media users. In addition to his social media accounts, Obama’s main online platform was his website ( which was initiated by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook.[9] Obama’s website operated as an online political machine that facilitated campaign donations, discussions, forums, and event planning.

As Table 1 shows, John McCain trailed well behind Obama during the presidential election in terms of social media support, with only 625,000 Facebook followers and 4,492 Twitter followers.[10] McCain himself admitted that he did not have an email account and did not use the Internet, which may have weakened his appeal to young voters.[11]

It is important to note however that while Obama was able to win nearly 53% of the vote in 2008, his margin of victory was much closer than the social media statistics alone would suggest. This affirms the fact that social media popularity is not necessarily correlated with actual votes. There are many reasons why this is the case. For example, in August 2015, 38% of American adults were not actively using Facebook, while 80% were not actively using Twitter.[14] Thus a significant number of voters are not represented on major social media channels. Second, many social media users do not express their preference for a particular candidate prior to voting by “following” their social media accounts. Third, many voters may follow a politician’s social media account without the intention of voting for them. It is possible, for instance, that they have “liked” the politician’s page some time ago and have since decided to support another politician.

Young Americans are active on social media accounts at higher rates than older voters. In August 2015, Pew Research Centre found that 82% of online adults aged 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those aged 30 to 49, while only 64% of those aged 50 to 64 and 48% of those aged 65 and older use Facebook. This suggests that young people are likely to respond to campaign strategies that effectively utilise social media platforms. Whether the youth vote in itself is crucial to winning an election is reliant on other factors. For example, although 2008 is regarded as the “Facebook election,” Obama did not need youth support to win that year. Table 2 illustrates why. Exit polls showed that Obama won 50% of the vote from voters over 30 years old in 2008, and 53% of the vote overall.[15] Only voters aged 65 years of age and above supported McCain over Obama. Thus Obama’s advantage amongst the 18-29 age group was not critical.

Obama’s re-election in 2012 over the Republican candidate Mitt Romney was more closely contested. Romney won 50% of all voters over the age of 30, compared to Obama’s 48%. Moreover, Pew Research Centre states that Obama may not have won four key states in 2012 without the youth vote. In each of these states, Obama would have lost the election to Romney without youth voters, but with their support he was able to eke out narrow victories.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election: Trump’s surprising social media success

Since 2008, social media has become more and more important in American politics. A survey conducted by Pew Research Centre found that in January 2016, 44% of all U.S. adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, higher than the percentage who learned about the election from newspapers.[17] Within this group, 35% of voters aged 18-29 named social media as the most helpful type of source for learning about the election, compared to only 15% of those aged 30-49 and 5% of those aged 50-64. As of July 2016, 24% of U.S. adults turn to the social media posts of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for news and information about the election.

Given these statistics, it is not surprising that presidential candidates are more active on social media this year than in previous elections. Pew Research Centre found that in 2012 Mitt Romney averaged just one tweet a day, while Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both averaged 11-12 tweets a day during May 2016. Both Obama and Romney updated their Facebook statuses twice a day on average, which was less than half as often as Trump and Clinton.

Donald Trump has shattered the stereotype dating back to the 2008 election that Republican candidates such as McCain and Romney have been unable to use social media as effectively as Democrats. As Table 3 shows, Trump boasts more than 10 million likes on his Facebook page, 4.8 million more than Hillary Clinton as of August 2016. Trump also has more followers than Clinton on Instagram and Twitter. This may seem surprising since Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and the anointed successor to Obama, the original pioneer of the “Facebook election” who remains quite popular with 49,589,674 likes on his own Facebook page.

Although both Trump and Clinton upload posts on Facebook and Twitter at roughly similar rates, Trump receives a larger public response to his social media posts in every measurable category of user attention such as Facebook shares, comments, reactions, and Twitter retweets.[19] For example, from May 11 to May 31, 2016, Trump’s posts on Twitter were retweeted almost 6,000 times on average while Clinton’s tweets were only retweeted 1,500 times on average. Of course, these numbers may have been affected by the fact that Trump has more followers on than Clinton, and it is also possible that some of the “retweets” were critical of Trump. Nonetheless these statistics show that Trump has made a significant impact on social media with his posts.

Trump’s high level of popularity on social media can be attributed to several factors. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Trump’s diction is comprehensible for an American fifth grader.[20] Whether the content is expressed in person or on social media, Trump uses easy, everyday language that all Americans can understand. Also, many of Trump’s tweets reflect the fear and cynicism pervasive in his supporters.[21] His tendency to make offensive and immature comments with respect to his opponent and the “political establishment” on Twitter and Facebook earns him constant media attention, which may have boosted his support due to the “exposure effect.”[22]

In this sense, Donald Trump is perfectly suited for Facebook and Twitter. His messages are easy to understand, frequently updated, relatively brief, spontaneous, timely, and controversial. He is unafraid to voice his opinions on nearly any pressing issue and has resolved to deal with the consequences after the fact. Therefore, although social media itself is meant to be a politically neutral platform, it acts as an uncannily effective megaphone for Trump’s blunt and politically incorrect outbursts, which are then echoed and shared by his supporters around the world.

Social media and presidential elections: Differences between Taiwan and the U.S.

In Taiwan, as in the U.S., a presidential election is held using universal suffrage and the first-past-the-post system.[23] Also, as in the U.S., there are two parties that dominate presidential as well as legislative politics in Taiwan.[24] However, the Taiwanese electorate is much smaller than the American electorate, so it is natural that there are fewer social media followers for presidential candidates in Taiwan as compared to the U.S.

Taiwanese politicians tend to use different social media and messaging platforms than American politicians, which reflects the popularity of different social media platforms in the two regions. As Table 4 shows, Facebook is popular in both regions, with 41% of Taiwanese[25] and 62% of Americans having active Facebook accounts. But Twitter is much less popular in Taiwan, with only 9% of the population being active on Twitter as compared to approximately 20% in the U.S. In a similar manner, Instagram is relatively well-known in the U.S. with 24% of the population being active users, while it has the same amount of penetration in Taiwan as Twitter at 6%. Finally, 33% of Taiwanese people have an active LINE account, compared to 3% of Americans. This reflects the fact that LINE, unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is based in Japan and draws the majority of its users from the Asia-Pacific region.

Due to the popularity of Facebook in Taiwan, all three presidential candidates in the 2016 Taiwanese presidential elections -Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP, Eric Chu of the KMT and James Soong of the People First Party (PFP) - were active on Facebook during their campaigns. Tsai’s campaign also made use of LINE to reach out to their supporters, and the DPP had an Instagram account. Yet none of these candidates were active on Twitter. By contrast, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are very active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but not on LINE.

The 2016 Taiwan presidential election: The youth vote and Tsai’s social media strategy

As previously mentioned, in December 2015 and January 2016, the Centre sent a delegation of researchers to observe the campaign strategies of the DPP and the KMT along with smaller parties such as the PFP. Based on our meetings, it was clear that some parties prioritised social media more than others. For example, DPP members explained that they had dedicated a Centre of Innovative Media to promote Tsai’s appeal among young voters through social media by making videos, illustrations and infographics. Innovative Media team members had an average age of 28, which shows that the DPP delegated their “youth strategy” to relatively young team members. Although the DPP acknowledged that voters would not necessarily cast a ballot based on fancy advertisements, they viewed social media as a way to attract new blood to volunteer for Tsai’s campaign, build the DPP brand, and attract netizens to Tsai’s social media accounts.

On the other hand, KMT members did not emphasise social media or the youth vote more generally as an important aspect of their campaign strategies. Instead, the KMT revealed that their top priority for the election was to convince previous KMT voters who were disillusioned with Ma Ying-jeou to support Eric Chu. There was no equivalent to the Centre of Innovative Media in the KMT to specifically target youth voters through social media.

More and more young people in Taiwan are turning away from traditional media platforms and relying on social media as their primary source of news and information. A recent study conducted by Shih Hsin University in Taiwan revealed that 70% of Taiwanese college students received their news from social media, while only 20% used the television as their main source of news.[28] These statistics suggest that youth in Taiwan were more prone to receiving and sharing messages on electoral issues by using social media as opposed to conventional outlets.

Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP scored a convincing victory in 2016. Tsai won the presidential election by over 3 million votes, while the DPP secured a 68-seat majority in the Legislative Yuan.[29] Moreover, Tsai dominated the youth vote, with 70% of voters aged 20-29 voting for Tsai.[30] Table 5 breaks down Tsai’s comfortable margin of victory over her competitors Chu and Soong while also noting the disparity in Facebook “likes” between Tsai and her rivals.

Of course, besides social media, many factors contributed to Tsai and the DPP’s victory. For instance, there has been a declining rate of support in Taiwan for the KMT and former President Ma Ying-jeou ever since his resignation as the KMT’s chairman in 2014. Opposition to Ma and the KMT rose after the KMT passed a controversial Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement with China that would arguably hurt Taiwan’s domestic economy and leave it vulnerable to pressure from Mainland authorities.[33] Many Taiwanese youth are generally supportive of independence from China; thus they were opposed to Ma’s stance of closer cooperation with China and more aligned with Tsai and the DPP’s scepticism towards China with regard to cross-strait relations.

However, in addition to holding political views more in line with young Taiwanese voters, Tsai was also able to leverage her presence on Facebook and LINE in order to gain an advantage with young voters over her opponents. While all three candidates were active on Facebook, what gave Tsai’s campaign an edge was the Centre for Media Innovation. This DPP team strategically used YouTube videos and LINE as visual representations of Tsai’s public image in a way that was specifically catered to young people. For example, Tsai was depicted in campaign advertisements and music videos produced by the DPP as a “moe girl”, which is a cat-like anime figure.[34] Anime is relatively popular in Taiwan due to the prevailing Japanese influence in the region, and the moe anime figure was immediately recognisable to many Taiwanese youth. These videos were uploaded to Tsai’s social media accounts and were shared widely amongst netizens, which helped to spread Tsai’s popularity amongst young Taiwanese voters.

Tsai’s campaign also created a Star Wars-inspired poster of Tsai and her running mate, current Vice President of Taiwan Chen Chien-jen, that went viral on Facebook.[35] The poster juxtaposed the name of the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with the DPP’s own clever tagline to encourage the Taiwanese to vote: “People Awaken, 民意覺醒.” Lee Hou-ching, Director of the Centre of Media Innovation, said: “Through graphics and animation, we make it easy for voters to understand our policies. We call this motion policy, which can be explained in two to three minutes. Its advantage is it can be quickly disseminated through LINE, Facebook and other forms of social media.”[36] Since Tsai was able to acquire over 2 million “likes” on Facebook, this suggests that her social media strategy was more effective than that of her competitors, despite the fact that they employed similar tactics such as using short videos to illustrate policies.

Differences between Taiwan and U.S. presidential elections and Hong Kong LegCo elections

Hong Kong is governed by a Chief Executive rather than a president. As previously mentioned, unlike in Taiwan and the U.S., the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is not elected via universal suffrage but rather by an unelected Election Committee. Only 40 of the 70 seats[37] in the LegCo are directly elected by ordinary residents rather than specially categorised electors in functional constituencies.[38] Members of functional constituencies in the LegCo besides the District Council (Second) functional constituency are selected by a smaller group of electors.

For this reason it is less important for candidates running for Chief Executive and non-District Council functional constituencies to appeal to voters using social media. Not only do these politicians require less support from the public, but they also face a much smaller number of competitors, with many candidates for functional constituencies running unopposed.

Facebook usage is relatively high amongst Hong Kong politicians. This reflects Facebook’s status as the most favoured platform in Hong Kong, as expressed in Table 4.[39] Nearly all of the geographic constituency candidates in this year’s LegCo elections have active Facebook accounts, which they use to share videos, links, messages, and pictures with their followers. The Chief Executive has encouraged his ministers to communicate with the public on social media platforms.[40] By contrast, very few Hong Kong politicians are actively using Twitter, LINE or Instagram, which again reflects the lower levels of popularity for these channels in the region. Thus as compared to Taiwan and especially the U.S., the usage of social media by Hong Kong politicians is arguably the most narrow in that it is largely restricted to one medium, Facebook.

Another important difference is that in the U.S. and Taiwan presidential elections, there are typically only two or three candidates and they are all competing for one position using the “First-past-the-post” system. For this reason there is naturally more head-to-head competition and more incentive to gain any advantage possible over the competition. By contrast, in LegCo geographic constituency elections as well as the District Council (Second) functional constituency election, multiple seats are up for competition and the seats are awarded by proportional representation.[41] Thus, these elections have far more competitors, and each candidate receives less votes as a result. It can be argued that social media campaigns are less essential in such races because the threshold for entry in the LegCo in terms of the vote share required is much smaller than the typical vote share required to win a presidential election.[42]

Finally, with regards to presidential elections in Taiwan and especially the U.S., the electorate is comprised of tens of millions of citizens. In LegCo geographical constituency elections, the size of the electorate is much smaller. For this reason it is less important for candidates in geographic constituency elections to reach out to citizens who live in many different regions and territories through social media, and more important to emphasise face-to-face interactions in their own communities to show sincerity to voters as well as a genuine commitment to promoting the needs and priorities of district residents.

The 2016 LegCo elections: Facebook “likes” do not necessarily lead to real votes

The 2016 LegCo elections are important in several ways. First, this year will include the most candidates and party lists in LegCo history, with a total of 213 candidates belonging to 84 lists competing for the 35 geographic constituency seats and 21 candidates belonging to 9 lists contesting the District Council (Second) functional constituency seats.[43] To compare, in 2012, only 67 lists competed for the geographic constituencies.[44]

Second, many senior LegCo members such as James Tien Pak-chun, Emily Lau Wai-hing, and Alan Leong Ka-kit are not running for re-election; instead younger members of their parties are running at the top of their party lists.[45] With younger candidates in the election, social media could potentially play a more prominent role. Third, the elections will occur just two years after the Umbrella Revolution and one year after the emergence of so-called “Umbrella soldiers” and “localist” parties in the 2015 District Council elections.[46] Many of these groups are targeted at and comprised of young Hongkongers and are now running in the LegCo elections as well.

As in the U.S. and Taiwan, Facebook users in Hong Kong tend to be younger in age. According to Socialbakers, the largest age group of Hong Kong Facebook users in 2014 was 25 to 34, followed by 18 to 24.[47] Moreover, younger voters in Hong Kong are widely perceived to be more supportive of the pan-democratic and “localist” parties than the pro-establishment parties. For example, a poll conducted in June 2016 by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that 39.2% of Hongkongers aged 15 to 24 supported independence, a position associated with localist parties, while 26.0% were opposed to independence.[48]

The fact that a significant portion of Hong Kong Facebook users tend to be pan-democratic or localist supporters may have influenced pan-democratic and localist politicians to be more engaged on Facebook than their pro-establishment rivals. This could be reflected in the disparity in “Facebook likes” between prominent members of the various camps prior to this year’s LegCo elections. For instance, radical pan-democrat “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung boasts 205,289 likes on his Facebook page as of August 10, 2016, far more than any other elected official in Hong Kong.[49] As Table 6 shows, when the top eight LegCo candidates are ranked based on Facebook likes, only two of the eight candidates (Regina Ip and James Tien) are from the pro-establishment camp, while the remaining six are either pan-democrats, localists, or independents. However, it should be noted that the number of likes could overestimate contemporary support if a candidate has set up an account many years ago, and this is an important factor that must be considered when evaluating popular support for a politician based on Facebook likes.

It can be argued that James Tien Pak-chun is an example of a local politician who has used social media to his advantage. Despite being a prominent member of the pro-establishment bloc, which has generally supported the Chief Executive, Tien has used his Facebook as a platform to launch harsh criticisms of Leung Chun-ying while also sharing humorous images or “memes” that make fun of Leung or of other politicians. He also likes to upload pictures of himself indulging in daily activities such as eating out, which could provide insight into his private life.

Finally, Tien along with celebrities such as Jackie Chan and Andy Lau participated in the Facebook memorial of the firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Ngau Tau Kok blaze in June 2016 by uploading pictures using the tag “向前線消防員致敬.”[51] This shows that Tien is willing to comment on current affairs that are of interest to the general public. Indeed, although Facebook likes are not necessarily indicative of voter support, Tien has 45,444 likes as of August 10, 2016 which is second-most among all members of the pro-establishment camp.

Facebook likes do not necessarily lead to real votes. During the 2016 New Territories East By-election, the results of which are displayed in Table 7 below, Holden Chow Ho-ding, a pro-establishment candidate, was able to obtain 34.8% of the votes.[52] The winner, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, earned 37.2% of the votes. Yet Yeung has 80,931 likes on his Facebook page, compared to only 13,455 likes for Chow. Thus, it can be inferred that Chow was not prohibitively disadvantaged due to his deficiency in Facebook support, since he was still close to victory despite having a disadvantage in Facebook likes.

Facebook likes are also not necessarily correlated with voter intentions to support party lists. According to a June 2016 poll conducted by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKU POP), only 3.7% of voters in the New Territories East constituency intended to vote for Leung Kwok-hung’s party list.[56] Meanwhile, only 3.0% percent of voters intended to vote for the party list led by Democratic Party candidate Roy Kwong Chun-yu in the District Council (Second) functional constituency. Kwong has 167,710 Facebook likes as of August 4, 2016, second only to Leung Kwok-hung, who has the most likes among all candidates this year.

In the same opinion poll, 17.4% of New Territories East voters intended to vote for Alvin Yeung, 8.4% intended to vote for Dominic Lee Tsz-king and 8.0% intended to vote for Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan. All of these candidates have less “likes” than Kwong and Leung, particularly in the case of Lee and Quat, who have 15,036 and 16,879 likes respectively as of August 10, 2016.[57] This discrepancy can be explained by several factors, such as the fact that many of Kwong and Leung’s “likes” may have been accumulated in previous years, or that many of their supporters are not planning on voting in this year’s LegCo elections or are voting for another candidate.

Conclusion: Lessons for Hong Kong with regards to social media and LegCo elections

As a preliminary matter, there appears to be less research available with regards to Hong Kong social media users and voters as compared to the U.S. and Taiwan. For example, without exit polling, there is no evidence that social media users or young people tend to vote for pan-democratic or localist groups instead of pro-establishment groups. As such it is difficult at this time to make conclusions about the importance of social media in local elections without first gaining a better understanding of Facebook user and voter demographics.

The first lesson that could be applied to Hong Kong is that Facebook likes not necessarily correlated with actual votes, and candidates should not use Facebook as a substitute for opinion polling. This was established in the 2016 New Territories East by-election as well as opinion polls leading up to the 2016 LegCo election. Second, as the 2008 U.S. presidential election and the 2016 Taiwan presidential election have shown, it is not usually necessary to gain an advantage in social media to win office. Although an active social media presence could increase youth voter support, this will only be a difference maker in a close election where older voters and young voters favour different candidates, such as the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Nonetheless, research has shown that social media can act as a valuable tool in disseminating political messages, at least in the U.S. For example, the Brookings Institution Centre for Technology has predicted that future political influence will be determined by social media and social networks because these are the filters used by young voters to access and evaluate political information.[58] To influence the course of electoral events, it is necessary first to gain the trust of the public, many of whom rely on social media to obtain and evaluate the accuracy of political information. Social media can also enable politicians to “set the agenda” of civic discussions by using their online influence to focus political debate on certain issues, while allowing politicians to receive valuable real-time feedback on their campaign proposals.

Politicians are increasingly using social media to reach out to specific demographics based on geo-location and behavioural advertising. This can be done by tapping into the personal data that social networks like Facebook collect from users in order to pinpoint the demographics most receptive to their campaign messaging. Candidates can also use social media to gauge online discussion and determine which issues are important to netizens. Thus, it could be valuable for local politicians to be active on social media even if these efforts may not guarantee votes, since they can still use social media to influence and initiate discussions during the election season.

Of course, regardless of the type of platform or medium used, the actual content of the messages shared on social media by politicians will be critical. It is also important to target specific groups that may be particularly receptive to a particular political ideology or system. For example, Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP devoted a team of young party members to focus on representing Tsai in a way that was appealing to young Taiwanese through anime-inspired videos and movie posters. By contrast, Donald Trump has been able to acquire a massive following on social media in part because of his ability to use very basic vocabulary that all of his supporters can understand. Since Facebook now allows candidates to target their messages and advertisements based on personal information such as age or geographic location, local candidates should tailor their campaigns for specific groups of voters. Again, it would be beneficial for candidates and parties to conduct their own research into social media users and the demographics of their supporters so that they can craft their social media strategies in a bid to maximise votes.

1 Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, Barack Obama and the Facebook Election, US News, November 19, 2008,
2 Victoria Jen, Social media a key battleground in Taiwan election, Channel News Asia, January 12, 2016,
3 Carl Bialik, Everyone has fake Twitter followers, but Trump has the most, FiveThirtyEight, April 14, 2016,
4 Tony Cheung, Universal suffrage cannot be ignored by the next Hong Kong chief executive, Regina Ip says, South China Morning Post, April 25, 2016,
5 Tanna Chong, Legco election 2016: how a handful of voters elect 30 Hong Kong lawmakers, South China Morning Post, February 6, 2014,
6 Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, Barack Obama and the Facebook Election, US News, November 19, 2008,
7 Catherine Holahan, John McCain Is Way Behind Online, Bloomberg, June 27, 2008,
8 MySpace was a popular form of social networking mainly in the U.S. from 2003-2007. It is fairly similar to Facebook.
9 Henry Blodget, How Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes got Barack Obama elected, Business Insider, June 2, 2009,
10 Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, Barack Obama and the Facebook Election.
11 Toby Harnden, John McCain ‘technology illiterate’ doesn’t email or use internet, The Telegraph, July 13th, 2008,
12 Zoe Fox, The Digital Smackdown: Obama 2008 vs. Obama 2012, Mashable, September 24, 2012,
13 2008 United States Presidential Elections Results, U.S. Election Atlas,
14 Maeve Duggan, The Demographics of Social Media Users, Pew Research Centre, August 19, 2015,
15 Youth voters supported Obama less but may have mattered more, Pew Research Centre, November 26, 2012,
16 All data from this chart is derived from the cited article written by the Pew Research Centre, which in turn used exit poll data from the National Election Pool provided by NBC News and national Public Radio.
17 The 2016 Presidential campaign- a news event that’s hard to miss, Pew Research Centre, February 4, 2016,
18 As of August 10, 2016.
19 Candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public, Pew Research Centre, July 18, 2016,
20 Justin Moyer, Trump’s grammar in speeches ‘just below 6th grade level,’ study finds, Washington Post, March 18, 2016,
21 Jeff Guo, The real reasons Donald Trump’s so popular – for people totally confused by it, Washington Post, December 12,2015,
22 Jeffrey Pfeiffer, Everything we bash Trump for is actually what we seek in leaders, Fortune, August, 7, 2015,
23 Elections,,
24 Blue, Green and Yellow: Party dynamics in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, January 20, 2016,
25 Penetration of leading social networks in Taiwan as of 4th quarter 2014,,
26 Social Media Usage in Hong Kong, Go-Globe HK, May 16, 2015,
27 Number of Instagram users in the United States from 2014 to 2020,, 2016,
28 Victoria Jen, Social media a key battleground in Taiwan election.
29 Taiwan election: Tsai Ing-wen is Taiwan’s first female president, South China Morning Post, January 16, 2016,
30 Anna Beth Keim, Taiwan’s Kids Are Not All Right, Foreign Policy, May 17, 2016,
31 Tsai Ing-wen wins Taiwan leadership election, Xinhua, January 16, 2016,
32 As of August 10, 2016.
33 Hands across the water, The Economist, November 7, 2015,
34 Oona McGee, Taiwan’s president-elect Tsai Ing-wen appears as cute moe anime girl in awesome campaign videos, RocketNews24, January 19, 2016,
35 Gwyneth Wang, When Taiwanese Identity Awakens, Ketagalan Media, December 30, 2015,
36 Victoria Jen, Social media a key battleground in Taiwan election.
37 These 40 seats are comprised of 35 geographic constituency seats and 5 seats from the District Council (Second) Functional constituency.
38 Tanna Chong, Legco election 2016: how a handful of voters elect 30 Hong Kong lawmakers, South China Morning Post, February 6, 2014,
39 Lana Lam, Facebook is Hong Kong’s top digital platform in survey commissioned by company, South China Morning Post, August 22, 2014,
40 Stuart Lau, Will you ‘friend’ CY Leung? Hong Kong chief executive opens Facebook account, South China Morning Post, October 28, 2015,
41 Ker Sin Sze, Does Hong Kong need electoral reform? South China Morning Post, April 13, 2013,
42 For example, in the 2012 LegCo election, Leung Che-cheung and Gary Fan Kwok-wai were able to win LegCo geographic constituency seats despite only winning 6.79% and 6.16% of the vote in their respective constituencies.
43 289 validly nominated candidates for Legislative Council election, Electoral Affairs Commission, August 5, 2016,
44 287 validly nominated candidates for Legislative Council election, Electoral Affairs Commission, August 7, 2012,
45 Phoenix Un, Veterans make way for new kids, The Standard, July 11, 2016,
46 Stuart Lau, Hong Kong’s new generation: “Umbrella soldiers’ and Neo Democrats big winners in district elections, South China Morning Post, November 25, 2015,
47 Lana Lam, Facebook is Hong Kong’s top digital platform in survey commissioned by company.
48 Support for independence highest among young people, poll finds, Hong Kong Economic Journal, July 25, 2016,
49立會選戰數據:fb宣傳戰 會否「得like無所用?Apple Daily, July 16, 2016,
50 As of August 10, 2016. The list of the top 15 LegCo candidates based on Facebook likes was originally created by Apple Daily newspaper and can be seen at this link:
51 Tony Cheung, Facebook salute to firefighters by Andy Lau, Eric Tsang, Sammo Hung and Eason Chan draws support from Hong Kong politicians and celebrities, South China Morning Post, June 27, 2016,
52 Jeffie Lam, Civic Party wins New Territories East by-election, South China Morning Post, February 29, 2016,
53 Election Result- 20216 Legislative Council NT East Geographical Constituency By-election,,
54 As of August 4, 2016.
55 Leung Tin-kei replaced his Facebook account with a new page after being questioned by the Electoral Affairs Commission about his stance on independence. The statistics here reflect the number of likes from his new page.
56 2016 Legislative Council Election Pre-nomination Survey, HKU POP, July 14, 2016,
57 In Lee’s case, many voters probably intended to vote for him because the relatively popular James Tien, a Legislative Council member and representative of New Territories East, is running second on Lee’s party list.
58 Darrell M. West, Ten ways social media can improve campaign engagement and reinvigorate American democracy, Brookings Institute, June 28, 2011,