With social media dominating the 2016 Presidential election, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of these communication platforms. The especially wild popularity of Twitter has led presidential candidates to flock there. The public is beginning to receive more and more news from social media. Without delving further than a 140-character tweet, the public receives less substantive information, which may have implications for the 2016 election.
According to a recent article from the Duke Chronicle, people feel informed and satisfied with their knowledge of news after looking at social media. By receiving all of the highlights and snippets of the day, people are disillusioned to feel they have sufficient knowledge on many different topics. While this style is easily absorbed, context, background and a balanced story are often missing. A 140-character statement simply cannot yield the same benefit as reading a two-page article or watching a detailed story on the nightly news. Social media also produces free content, which makes it a popular platform for candidates to use. In this election, Twitter has played a major role in reaching millions and giving political messages attention.
U.S. News & World Report analyzed social media messages from Trump and Clinton to see their differences in communication techniques. Trump has a significantly lower number of posts that discuss policy and issues on social media than Clinton. Both candidates use social media to express negative attacks. However, there are some differences in the actual substance of the attacks. According to the article, Trump’s attacks are seen to be more aggressive and targeted, while Clinton makes more subtle statements. While more and more people are turning toward social media to receive information, they are obtaining less substantive political material. This is may reduce informed voters due to less knowledge and information on the actual politics of this election. Social media is not regulated and has the potential to host information that is not necessary for the electorate to know in order to be an informed voter.
The public is receiving more information from social media in this election cycle than ever before. Many journalists and political commentators are on Twitter, so they have some information control on what content goes out to the public. The U.S. News article questions whether or not the public benefits from receiving election campaign information on social media. There are many benefits, and appropriate times to use Twitter and social media. But when it comes to informing citizens of pertinent news from which to base a decision on who to vote for, what more needs to be done to ensure it matches the journalistic standards we hold online, radio and television to? In order to get the most out of news on social media, follow up with a journalist’s tweet and read the full article or watch the entire video. To be a more informed voter, use social media as a tool for a quick update from a candidate, or a way to locate stories from journalists you’re interested in digging into deeper. Twitter is a terrific supplement for news, but we must do our due diligence to ensure we are becoming informed voters.