“You are what you share,” as Charles W. Leadbeater said. We choose how we are depicted based on what we post on social media. Social media manifests itself into practically every aspect of our lives, including our political preferences.
A shocking 62% of adults in the United States reported getting their news directly from social media in 2016, an 11% increase since 2012 according to a survey by Pew Research Center. Simply put, social media is accessible. Rather than making time to watch the news, people can check their phones to get the same information at their own convenience.
Rather than strictly hearing about candidate’s views, people can log onto social media to attain a personal feel for a candidate’s life. Social media also urges active participation by creating easy opportunities for people to express their beliefs. All someone has to do to show their support for someone or something is add to their Snapchat story or update their Facebook status.
While social media can be an extremely advantageous tool in furthering political campaigns and spreading ideas, negative results can also stem from the use of social media in politics. Many times, social media is not only used to support certain politicians, but also to heavily criticize others. This can lead to the spread of false propaganda created simply to further someone else’s agenda.
As a result, people can easily be misled by rumors and jump to the wrong conclusions, affecting their opportunity to be an informed voter.
For example, a tweet made by President Donald J. Trump in 2012 was still making headlines in the 2016 election. The tweet stated, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Trump has been given much criticism for this tweet, along with many others, and while this can be seen as harmful to his campaign, it can also be argued that by bringing more attention to himself.
As the adage goes, “All press is good press.”
Social media is not going to go away; politicians must simply learn how to portray themselves carefully and accurately.