SMS Text Messaging as a Political & Social Tool

Thanks to SmartMobs for drawing attention to a Wikipedia entry that lists some of the interesting ways that mass SMS text messaging has been involved in current political and social situations:

* In January 2001, Joseph Estrada was forced to resign from the post of president of the Philippines. The popular campaign against him was widely reported to have been co-ordinated with SMS chain letters.

* In the wake of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, SMS was used to garner support for large protest rallies. It became known as “the night of short text messages”.

* During the 2004 Philippine presidential elections, short message was a popular form of electoral campaigning for and against candidates such as incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and main contender Fernando Poe, Jr.

* In March of 2005, SMS was one of the communications forms used to garner support for the Lebanese political rallies.

* The Islamic Republic of Iran disabled their nationwide SMS network during the 2005 Iranian Presidential elections elections in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President. Some Western commentators have op’ed that this was orchestrated to help get Ahmadinejad elected and to quell political uprising.

* Political organisations such as Cymru X, the Plaid Cymru youth wing, and the Young Scots for Independence, the youth wing of the Scottish National Party, have used a “text referendum” to gain public support and raise the profile of their respective causes. The YSI are currently running text referenda on Scottish independence, nuclear weapons, and a St Andrew’s Day public holiday.