Social Media and its Effect on Politics

Donald Trump would have never been able to do what he has done without the assistance of a Twitter account.

Social media is everything in this election and it is only a reflection of our world today. Without it, Trump’s gaffes never go viral because there is no platform to share and discuss them. Without it, there are thousands of conspiracy theories which would have never seen the light of day. In this election, social media has allowed the American citizen to voice their concerns to a large, open, audience of their peers. This open political discussion that occurs all too often on the like of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, is what drives the passion that left wing and right wing voters have. Hiding behind a screen gives many people quite a bit of confidence and constant political bickering pursues on social media. This plays a huge role in the hostility that people feel towards the opposition when the sides meet in person.

donald_trump_vs_hillary_clinton_social_media

Even worse, some might say, is the fact that social media has such a huge influence over the way people are voting. Many articles that are shared on sites like Facebook hold misleading “clickbait” titles that make bold claims about both candidates. Unsurprisingly, many Donald Trump supporters who have been interviewed at his rallies have claimed that, from what they see on social media, only good things are said about Trump. Many people get their news from social media and that news is biased at best (not forgetting the amount of voters who fall for satirical articles). Trump has even repeatedly said at his rallies that after the debates, all the online Twitter polls show that he won; saying “All of them. Every one.” These online polls have repeatedly been proven completely inaccurate and biased by every reputable source from CNN to published scientific studies. Yet, Trump still refers to them in his speeches, and his voters still believe that those polls are correct.

That should not be too surprising though as it is clear that his supporters get their political knowledge from statuses and articles posted on Facebook and Twitter. In 2008, Barack Obama used social media and guerilla marketing to spread around his “HOPE” campaign, calling for a new beginning of sorts in politics. In a sense, Trump has done the same, saying he is not a politician and is against traditional politics. His main driver throughout his campaign has been his anti-politics viewpoint and this stance is one that is repeatedly shown through statuses on social media which generally speak of politics in a bad light.

Politicians have adapted to using social media to their advantage and the average American voter is going to need to look elsewhere to find truly factual coverage of the election, something that is unfortunately becoming less and less common it seems.

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