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Social Media's Impact on Politics

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Today in our era, social media has become a key factor. It is used across all platforms from reporting local team scores all the way to reporting international breaking headlines. Now when social media and politics get mixed together, that is where it starts to become crazy. Social media has one or even the biggest impact on politics. Social media could be a wonderful help or a devastating blow. It is like a double edged sword.

Now when I hear politics, the first thing to come to mind are elections. As a candidate for any election, receiving the most help can boost chances of winning. Now that is where social media comes into play. In elections, social media can choose which candidates to cover and how much. Those choices alone can have a huge effect on voter perceptions.

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“As hard as it is to believe, the biggest thing that drives elections is simple name recognition,” said Regina Lawrence, executive director of the UO SOJC’s Agora Journalism Center and George S. Turnbull Portland Center. “Research has shown that some candidates can be literally left invisible because they can’t win enough interest from the media.” For example quoted in Brichacek, “This effect was most noticeable during the Republican primaries, when Donald Trump generated an outsized proportion of the media coverage.” Donald Trump was able to accomplish this for almost nothing out of his pocket. For the media, this disproportionate coverage was driven more by economics than political bias. In a competitive 24/7 news cycle, news organizations publish stories that will drive traffic. And, thanks to his preexisting fame and ability to generate controversy, those stories were often about Trump. This past year’s Republican primaries had such a large field, Trump’s ability to stand out in the crowd likely played a significant role in his nomination.

Another thing is that Research reveals that many major media outlets attract partisan audiences, which reflects political biases in their coverage. Again, this phenomenon is motivated by business. Since today’s news consumers can get the basic facts from a quick internet search, many publications have differentiated themselves by shifting from straight news to context and analysis. Unfortunately, the media’s growing political schisms seem to be driving polarization in the populace as well. “Selective exposure is the tendency many of us have to seek out news sources that don’t fundamentally challenge what we believe about the world,” said Lawrence. “We know there’s a relationship between selective exposure and the growing divide in political attitudes in this country. And that gap is clearly related to the rise of more partisan media sources.”

Another bad thing social media tends to do is contain fake news and untrue rumors. Political issues are presently impacted by each story, regardless of being genuine or not, that gets spread over the internet. It is getting increasingly harder to isolate genuine news from fake news on the web. Social media makes this refinement particularly befuddling. The consistent stream of images, connections, and gossip about political leaders is a blend of truths and untruths. There are currently a significant number of fake news websites that frequently post stories and sound bona fide. Some fake news sites are not by any means entertaining yet basically exist to present misleading content stories or to troll voters who do not do their very own examination. There are additional sites with political predispositions or those selling different unverified news. It is difficult to be affected by falsehood posted by your companions, regardless of whether they do not mean to misdirect you. It is in this way important to utilize a lot of wisdom before taking anything for granted.

Have you ever heard the phrase, a picture is worth 1,000 words? For most people, visuals carry an even more powerful impact than words on a page. Visual communication research has shown that images, especially of political candidates, convey emotions, actions, realism and credibility. These images form a lasting impression in the minds of the voting public. The photos news organizations choose to publish and factors such as their size and layout can also influence voter perceptions, this reveals possible bias. For example, look at how different newspapers across the country presented the story of the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the first female candidate from a major party. Some people led with a dominant photograph of Hillary that positioned her in a favorable light. Some led with an image of her husband. And other newspapers led with an image of Donald Trump. Published images also become part of the permanent record preserved on the internet. Trump may claim he did nott mock a reporter with a disability, but we have evidence in the form of a video and photographs showing that he did.

Now to some good reasons, social media is effective that it engages younger voters to finally go to the polls. A total of 50.3 percent of eligible voters voted in 2018, compared to a turnout of just 36.7 of eligible voters in 2014. The 2018 elections had the highest turnout of any midterm election held since the 1914 elections! Typically, older Americans tend to make up the largest portion of voters who actually go to the polls. But Twitter and Facebook have energized younger voters which in turn, had a profound impact on elections. A prime example was former President Barack Obama because he was the first politician to tap into the power of social media during his two successful campaigns for office.

Finally, it is the 21st century so ideally one of the manners in which online life has changed governmental issues is the sheer speed at which news, survey results, and gossip are shared. While in the past days, individuals needed to sit tight for the following paper or TV news show to get the most recent data, online news is a day in and day out wonder. Social sites have made this a stride further. While you can get to the news on numerous sites at any hour, the majority of people invest more energy in destinations, for example, Facebook and Twitter than they do on genuine news or political sites. This implies that the most recent news stories and assessments are shared by your companions at whatever point you sign on.

In conclusion, social media influences our politics today in every aspect. There are good things that it does, but also many bad things. At the end of the day, we must learn how to work with this and make sure we do not believe the false information we are given because not everything on the internet is true.

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