The role of social media in politics

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The role of social media in politics

Artwork provided by: Aurora Jimenez

Artwork provided by: Aurora Jimenez

Artwork provided by: Aurora Jimenez

Artwork provided by: Aurora Jimenez

Joelle Wittig, Editor-in-Chief

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With social media applications in the pockets of nearly every student, society revolves around the information they provide. These platforms have a wide influence, as voters across the country use them to keep up with politicians, share their opinions and stay informed on national news.

“It [social media] certainly has changed the face of today’s politics,” world history teacher Brian Kupfer said. “The news cycles a lot faster now and people used to get their information from just a few sources of news and on the networks, on TV and the major newspapers and magazines. Now there are so many different sources of news.”

Not only does social media create more platforms for spreading information, but it also helps to get young social media users involved in politics by giving them access to political news in a more convenient way than many other news outlets. With the 2020 presidential elections approaching, many students who have grown up with these online mediums are beginning to vote. Modern day discussions of public policy are primarily led by social media, as it allows politicians to speak directly to their constituents.

“I think it’s a very good way for young people, especially social media users, to get a good idea of them [politicians] because a lot of kids have social media,” sophomore Delaney Rosenblatt said. “It gives these thousands of politicians that are running, or trying to run, a chance to get their message and ideas out to the public very easily. If you just follow them, you can see their posts and their updates, and I’m sure you can ask questions and they will most likely respond.”

Despite the convenience of social media, it can raise alternate issues. When people rely entirely on it for political news, the ability for false or misinterpreted information to spread becomes much more likely. Many people choose to avoid social media politics altogether, instead finding their information using sources they deem more trustworthy.

“Social media plays like zero role in my involvement and information of politics,” senior Joshua Roberts said. “I choose other sources such as actual articles or actual news because most everything has a slant, especially social media. I choose to watch the actual videos or footage and read direct sources to make my own opinions. Social media is a great platform to spread information, but in reality a politician shouldn’t use it as a main platform as words are twisted easily.”

Social media platforms use algorithms to target specific demographics with recommended posts and advertisements, so users often fall victim to only seeing what they agree with. They are also more likely to follow politicians they already support, so it can be a challenge to see multiple perspectives. On the flip side, while it is important to be exposed to a variety of opinions, screen-to-screen communication on touchy subjects often leads to conflicts and arguments online.

“I think it’s pigeonholed people into exposing themselves to things that they already agree with and blocking things out that run contrary to their own opinions,” Kupfer said. “It’s no different for high schoolers than it is for adults. It’s also caused a lot of anger and people, during that last election cycle for example, on Facebook. I had people that I was friends with on Facebook that basically unfriended me.”

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