Sunday, October 16, 2016

From Hashtags to policy change. #3de3 Law in Mexico

Cristina Contreras Zamora
I plan to take the second module

Twitter has been extensively used to organize protest all over the world. In Mexico, starting in 2012, it has been a tool to mobilize citizenry for a myriad of purposes, mostly related to political change. The mass mobilizations provide the chance for social leaders and experts to emerge and spearhead efforts directed to change particular policies. This new leaders can eventually become politicians or opinion leaders, thus amplifying the number of voices and opinions in the public arena But, are they? Or are the new features of networked movements being used by information and tech-savy figures that are already part of the establishment?
In 2014, Civil Society Organizations started demanding that for the 2015 midterm election, candidates and politicians made public their #3de3: their tax declaration, their asset declaration and a conflict of interest declaration. With these, they claimed, corruption and cronyism could be –if not stopped, at least identified and candidates could be monitor to see if they incurred in conflict of interest or corruption actions. 
The #3de3 was used widely for over a year, and it accomplished much more than other networked movements: it got candidates voluntarily disclosing their asset, tax and income records, it managed to influence the creation of the Anti-Corruption System in Mexico and force an extraordinary Session of Congress to discuss many of the Anti-Corruption laws, including the #3de3 Law. In June of 2016 the mobilization of the hashtag #3de3 forced a presidential veto on an item the #3de3 bill. The item vetoed would have forced every person or business that received money from the government to make public their tax, asset and conflict of interest declaration; the language made it seem that people on safety net and income programs, students with government scholarships and every single employee form a company holding a government contract was subject to this law, which made it virtually inapplicable and defeated the purpose of keeping track of the public officials.
Why has the #3de3 been successful in influencing policy and the public agenda when other networked movements have failed to do so in Mexico?

Research Question
  • ·         Policy change derived from popular demand has not been frequent in Mexico. Not even when the number of protest organized via social media bring thousands into the streets. Yet, the #3de3 movement has been fairly successful in accomplishing policy changes without bringing the masses into the streets. Has the #3de3 movement been successful because it has popular backing or because it is organized by already well-established figures in the public arena?

  • ·         The #3de3 was successful because it was organized by already powerful personalities in the public arena in Mexico. While it managed to mobilize the public, its strength came from the fact that it was organized by already influential leaders.

I will collect data form Twitter for June 2016. During this period, the #3de3 Law was passed by Congress and public opinion mobilized to prevent the adoption of two provisions in the bill that would have made very large populations of Mexicans with little relation to the government subject to presenting their income, tax and conflict of interest declarations. Using social network analysis I will identify the key actors in this last push for the #3de3 law.

Once I gather the data form twitter, I will construct an attribute database about the most influential twitter users of this hashtag. I’ll use centrality measures to identify people and subgroups analysis to identify institutions that these people are affiliated with.

Using MediaCloud, I will conduct a content analysis about the mainstream media for the same period. I will identify the most referred expert sources on mainstream media and see if they match to the most active twitter users.

If the most active users of the #3de3 are public opinion leaders often referenced in mainstream media, this would indicate that while involving the citizens, the policy change was spearheaded by figures already established in the public arena. If this is the case, then Twitter is not necessarily opening possibilities for new social leadership on public issues.

I plan to use this insight for my capstone about social media and freedom of speech in Mexico. 

1 comment:

Christopher Tunnard said...

Very interesting. Your question is also well-formulated, and I especially like your comparison of popular (Twitter) backing and establishment (mainstream media) references to elicit a distinction of thought leadership and social leadership in policymaking You'll use SNA appropriately in each case.