It is evident that social media has played a significant role in politics since its inception into the digital world. The fact that social media users have a platform to express themselves has influenced the way they make critical decisions. Because the political landscape has changed over the years, the internet has contributed to this transformation. Social media has become an arena for political campaigns impacting on the way people think about issues. Candidates and those that support them continue to air their views on social media platforms. Parties have created their pages and broadcast messages to reach as many people as possible. Apart from that, social media does not have a positive influence, but there is also widespread voter fraud through the platform. There are recent shifts in the media landscape that have changed how people interact with political issues such as campaigns and voting.
Social media has transformed the way the public perceives politics (Harder, Sevenans & Van Aelst, 2017). For instance, the speed at which rumors and propaganda spread. Initially, people had to rely on a few platforms to get their news because all that was, was traditional media such as television and radio. However, the present era of social media has online news 24/7 and allows for people to engage through comments and sharing. People can now get news at any hour, and they can use different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and such (Harder, Sevenans & Van Aelst, 2017). These developments have created a loophole for all kinds of news, true or false and there is little accountability as such politicians are taking advantage of that to their benefit when it comes to voting.
Another way that social media has affected the elections is through the polls, they are an essential part of every campaign (Allcott, & Gentzkow, 2017). Due to multiple elections on social media, they usually give contradictory results. As it is with other types of political news, social media has doubled the number of polls. Today, one does not only follow on the polls, but also has a chance to participate online. The results of these polls have a significant influence on elections despite that they could have flaws (Allcott, & Gentzkow, 2017). People tend to think that just because one is far ahead in the polls, then they are most likely to win and see no point in voting.
Social media affects elections in that it is easy to target demographics by using ads and ensure that the right audience gets the message. Politicians usually exploit this advantage for their campaigns if they are running for office (Harder, Sevenans & Van Aelst, 2017). They can focus on concerns of women’s rights, veterans, youth, race, by tailoring their message to reach them (Allcott, & Gentzkow, 2017). Therefore, if one is on social media and notices political messages, it is not a coincidence.
To sum it up, social media is one of the biggest platforms for interaction. As such, the politicians have taken advantage of the technology have campaigns, create agenda, for polls, to target a specific audience and such. As a result, this has influenced the way people make a decision when it comes to elections. Some people vote according to what they read on social media. The availability of the news on social media every hour has made it easy for politicians to reach the masses. Therefore, things like propaganda, emerging issues, satire, speculation, spread quickly on social media as opposed to other platforms.
Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of
economic perspectives, 31(2), 211-36.
Harder, R. A., Sevenans, J., & Van Aelst, P. (2017). Intermedia agenda setting in the social
media age: How traditional players dominate the news agenda in election times. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 22(3), 275-293.
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