Social media plays role in election for students
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Senior Amanda Gargersaid she believes social media has made sharing political information more efficient than ever before, giving young voters a quick way to learn of political news.
However, she said it can also harm presidential candidates’ campaigns. She said politically charged statuses on Facebook and posts on Twitter prevent candidates from controlling what information voters can have access to.
Garger said she thinks citizen journalism is quickly becoming the main source of news for many young people. She said someone tweeting or making a political status is often how students find news.
“Social media affects people’s political positions because they are exposed to more information than they would seek out otherwise,” Garger said.
According to Paul Brewer, political science and international relations professor and associate director for research for the center for political communication,social media impacts young voters’ views in the presidential election.
Brewer said while he does not think it changes peoples’ opinions, social media provides reinforcement for students’ political beliefs.
“My hunch is that social media mostly tends to reinforce students’ political views given that people, including students, tend to have friends, both offline and on Facebook, who share their political views,” Brewer said.
Senior O’Neil Pryce said bylogging onto a social media website, students who would not seek out credible sources of political information can read everyone’s opinions on one website.
Pryce said students often use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to retweet, reply, like or favorite these opinions. He said the sites provide shortcuts for forming a political opinion and it has become increasingly common among the younger generation.
“For students in particular, the accessibility of social media really connects them to the elections,” Pryce said. “By following certain candidates or being Facebook friends with them, they’re instantly made so much more aware of what the issues are going on in the election.”
Garger said she believes social media is an important tool for political candidates because they allow candidates to become more visible to voters.
District 2 Councilman Jerry Cliftonsaid althoughsocial media can be valuable to elections, he does not think it is as important as in-person meetings.
“I do not use social media in my election process because on the local level, people value that one-on-one relationship with their representative,” Clifton said.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney utilize social media in their campaigns to spread their messages. On Oct. 22, the night of the third presidential debate, Obama’s Facebook page posted several statuses concerning Obama’s perceived victory at the debate.
“Share if you agree: President Obama won the final debate because his leadership has made America stronger, safer, and more secure than we were four years ago,” the status said.
Romney also used social media to talk about his campaign. During the third debate, Romney used Twitter to post several remarks directed against Obama and his stances.
“@BarackObama can’t run on his record & won’t lay out a second-term agenda. The choice is clear. Mi.tt/TbNoTK #CantAfford4More,” Romney’s tweet said.
Clifton said he thinks the simplicity of the surface-level information provided through these outlets can lead students to make an uninformed decision. He said social media can often give inaccurate or biased information, causing people to be misinformed on the topics at hand.
“Depending on the user and source, there can be a much more polarized view given,” Clifton said. “People need to be careful when looking for the validity of the sources they use, whether it be social media or just traditional blogs.”