National: 2016 Presidential Race Unfolds On Twitter, Facebook As New Social Media Trends Shape White House Campaigns | International Business Times

Social media may prove to be more crucial to the 2016 presidential race than past election cycles as voters increasingly rely on various networking platforms to keep informed. A new study released Tuesday reveals that the majority of Facebook and Twitter users consume their news on those sites. The report, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found that 63 percent of users on each of the social media platforms visit the site for news updates. These numbers are on the rise from 2013, when 52 percent of Twitter users and 47 percent of Facebook users reported finding their news on the sites. The increase was seen across all age groups. “There are many elements that can be at play with users of Facebook and Twitter when they are on these platforms,” said Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at the Pew Research Center. “It may be that they are on the platform and news ends up being something they do or the degree to which both Facebook and Twitter have put increased emphasis on news engagement and accessibility.”

National: How Google Could Give 2016 Hopefuls an Edge | Wall Street Journal

Iowans can expect to see a lot more of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker popping up in their Google browsers, if he decides to run for president later this year. That’s because the Walker team advertised aggressively on the popular search engine during his 2014 re-election and will likely do so again, should he pursue a White House bid. They spent heavily on Google ads to raise money and target voters. The Walker campaign was so aggressive in 2014 that Google highlighted its efforts in a just-released case study about the midterm campaigns. Among the findings: Mr. Walker’s re-election team raised more money from ads pegged to Google searches than it spent to buy space above those search results, an unusually high return-on-investment for political campaigns; his team also worked with the company to reach more than 5 million targeted voters in key ZIP codes through YouTube ads in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

South Korea: Vote counting broadcast live online | The Korea Times

The whole process of the by-elections, from voters entering polling stations to ballot-counting, was broadcast live online Wednesday. To improve transparency of the four by-elections in Seoul, Incheon, Seongnam and Gwangju, the National Election Commission (NEC) aired special programs live on its website, YouTube, Naver and Daum. The NEC said this was to earn people’s trust over the nation’s election system.

Japan: Parties begin to seek votes online | The Japan News

A ban on using the Internet in election campaigns has been lifted ahead of the Dec. 14 lower house election, following the upper house election held in summer last year. Each party is participating in the cybercampaign in their own way to attract the attention of voters. The Liberal Democratic Party has made a dedicated website. Linked with Twitter and Facebook accounts of its candidates, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the website is constantly sharing information from candidates on the campaign trail. On Tuesday, the website presented a photo of the prime minister as he visited the area affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to make a speech supporting another candidate. Komeito has made a website focusing on the party’s most important pledge — introducing a reduced consumption tax rate system for daily necessities and other items when the tax increase to 10 percent is put in place. Their site highlights the importance of the introduction, with an animation and charts. Page views had exceeded 60,000 as of Tuesday, according to the website, which sports the catchphrase “You can understand in one minute.”

New Zealand: Electoral Commission threatens musician with prosecution over ‘Planet Key’ | NZ Herald News

A musician who wrote a satirical song about Prime Minister John Key has been threatened with prosecution if he sells the track on iTunes. But soul and blues man Darren Watson is fighting back and threatening legal action of his own. The Electoral Commission has written to Watson instructing him to stop selling or promoting Planet Key. The music video satirises the Prime Minister and members of the National Government. It features Mr Key playing a stinging blues guitar solo on an endangered Maui’s dolphin while an oil rig explodes in the background. It also depicts Finance Minister Bill English carrying Mr Key’s golf clubs and the Prime Minister playing golf with US President Barack Obama.

South Africa: Elections Hub Launched Online |

Google has launched an online portal where voters, journalists and campaigners can easily track all the latest news, trends and information related to the 2014 elections. The South African Elections Hub serves as a one-stop site for voters to access election-related information, including party and candidate information, where to vote, real-time election news, search trends and some of the most engaging elections-related YouTube videos from a wide range of political parties, media and civil society. The Elections Hub is also mobile-friendly. Google has worked with a range of stakeholders including media, civil society organisations and political parties, enabling them to use technology to innovate during the elections and allow voters and politicians to share, discuss, and make informed decisions.

India: Silicon Valley is using India’s elections as a PR exercise—and it’s working | Quartz

If you lived in New Delhi and went out to vote today, you could have used Uber’s recently launched India service to get there and back for free. All you’d need to do is enter a promo code into the Uber app to get two rides worth up to Rs 1,000 ($16.60) between 7am and 7pm. You wouldn’t even need to vote. And the thing is, it actually wouldn’t make much sense to use the codes to vote—the maximum distance a voter needs to travel to get to a polling booth in Delhi is 2 km (1.25 miles), a much smaller fare. The California-based transportation network’s promotional deal may end up having the perverse effect of encouraging voters to skip voting and go see friends instead—specially since election day is a holiday in Delhi. Uber probably has good intentions, even if the execution leads to undesirable outcomes. Its Silicon Valley peers Google and Facebook are also using India’s elections as an excuse to build their brands, but their exploitation of the aura of significance that surrounds voting in the world’s largest democracy is arguably more pernicious. Those companies are using the elections to sell a beguiling myth: that the internet promotes democracy. The reality is more complicated, as the outcome of the Arab Spring has shown, and as polemical thinkers such as Evgeny Morozov have argued.

North Carolina: State elections chairman calls for respect | Charlotte Observer

Cary, N.C. County election board members must work as colleagues and not political rivals, the new Republican chairman of the State Board of Elections said Wednesday as recent local board dust-ups have led to allegations of partisanship and voter suppression. Josh Howard addressed nearly 500 local elections board members, directors and staff at a statewide training seminar, the first since all 100 county boards came under GOP control this year after 20 years in Democratic hands. Republicans now hold 2-1 majorities in counties because Gov. Pat McCrory was elected. But the division has gotten more attention in the past week as Democrats and civil rights groups are fuming over actions by Republican elections board members in Pasquotank and Watauga counties that could make it harder for college students to vote.

Iran: Internet in ‘coma’ as Iran election looms | AFP

Iran is tightening control of the Internet ahead of next month’s presidential election, mindful of violent street protests that social networkers inspired last time around over claims of fraud, users and experts say. The authorities deny such claims, but have not explained exactly why service has become slower. Businesses, banks and even state organisations are not spared by the widespread disruption in the Internet, local media say. “The Internet is in a coma,” said the Ghanoon daily in a report in early this month. “It only happens in Iran: the election comes, the Internet goes,” it said, quoting a tweet in Farsi. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and numerous other sites, including thousands of Western ones, have been censored in Iran since massive street demonstrations that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. Those protests — stifled by a heavy-handed crackdown that led to numerous arrests and even deaths — were instigated online and observers say the authorities are choking the Internet to prevent a recurrence.

Israel: Election Ads Ruled Too Offensive for Broadcast Rack Up Views on YouTube |

Efforts to introduce some drama, or comedy, into the somewhat lackluster Israeli election campaign, in the form of satirical television ads for two parties at opposite ends of the political spectrum, have been stifled by the country’s Central Election Committee, which deemed them too offensive to broadcast. Despite those rulings, however, both ads have attracted tens of thousands of views online this week. That has not gone unnoticed by the parties’ leaders. As the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported, before the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party bowed to a request to stop showing an ad that makes fun of émigrés from the former Soviet Union who are not considered Jews according to Halakha, or religious law, a party leader, Ariel Atias, said: “The ad isn’t supposed to hurt anyone. There is no word in it against Russians or any hurtful remarks, but an emphasis on Shas’s role in preventing legislation which will damage the state’s Jewish identity. We see it’s effective and tens of thousands have already viewed the video on YouTube.” Indeed, the official copy of the video posted on the Shas YouTube channel, and still featured on the party’s Facebook page, has been viewed more than 100,000 times since it was uploaded on Tuesday.