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Miss Pacific Pageant is skewed to PNG

MICHAEL KABUNI
| Academia Nomad

Miss Pacific Islands contestants turn up at lotu
Miss Pacific Islands contestants turn up at lotu. With one million social media users, PNG should be a shoo-in for the People's Choice

PORT MORESBY - The Miss Pacific Islands Pageant is underway.  But the dynamics, particularly the People’s Choice Award, appear to be lopsided.

That is, despite the title, the People’s Choice seems to favour Papua New Guinea.

This seems to be because this category is won by the photo with the most Facebook reactions.

If there’s anything you must know about us Papua New Guineans, it’s this… We are tribalistic.

We literally live in tribes, and at the regional level we will vote for our own national tribe.

That’s not a problem until you realise that the number of PNG social media users is larger than the entire population of the Pacific Island countries.

A study by ANU PhD students Jope Tarai from Fiji and PNG’s Michael Kabuni in 2022 showed that there are 1.03 million active social media users in PNG alone.

No Pacific Islands country has more than one million people except PNG, whose population is estimated to be more than 11 million.

With PNG’s social media users surpassing the total population of other Pacific Islands countries, the likelihood of PNG contestants winning the People’s Choice Award is significant.

Even if only a fraction of PNG's social media users participate in voting, it could sway the outcome in favour of a PNG contestant.

This phenomenon highlights the potential skew in a game where the sheer size of the PNG population gives its contestants an advantage in online voting competitions.

It's important to note that winning the Miss Pacific Islands title requires more than just social media reactions.

Nonetheless, the People’s Choice Award, which relies solely on social media engagement, is inherently biased towards countries with larger populations and higher social media usage.

As a result, I predict Tyla Singirok from PNG to win the People’s Choice Award.

This situation underscores broader issues of digital equity and representation in regional competitions, where disparities in population and technology access can significantly impact outcomes.

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