Social Media’s Influence on the 2016 Election

By: Meredith Erikson

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Photo via Fordham Political Review

The election results of 2016 caused a chaos of emotions from all different viewpoints. Media has played a large part in the showcasing and spreading of the reactions of not only Americans, but the whole world. Some argue that social media played a role in making this one of the most controversial elections in history. NPR’s host Renee Montagne argues, “social media, by this point, is not new. But in this election season, it’s played a bigger role in our politics than ever before.” In what ways has it become so relevant to this election? In regards to Twitter and Facebook, platforms that are meant for written communication, open discussion of this election has played a part in the reiteration of strongly conflicting views from both sides. Through tactics of reposting, retweeting and click-bait journalism, viewpoints about this election have been partly socially constructed. Not to mention that Trump’s outlandish comments were something unique to this election, that the media pounced on to utilize as content. Bots also exaggerated things as Douglas Guilbeault says, “they reinforce this sense of polarization in the atmosphere because bots don’t tend to be mild mannered. They are programmed to align themselves with an agenda.” Even executives at Facebook have contemplated their influence in the outcome of this race. “Facebook has been in the eye of a postelection storm for the last few days, embroiled in accusations that it helped spread misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how the American electorate voted,” according to New York Times writer Mike Isaac. There is the issue of sharing misinformation that has negatively associated Facebook, whether it is actually associated with it or not. Some of their employees claim that is an unbiased site that is for everyone to have their voice heard. Despite the intensified disagreement in our country resulting from social media, it has also created some good, especially during post-election time. Social media users, both common people and public figures, have used their platforms to encourage unity and to promote activism. It’s not a question of whether social media played a role in this election but rather if it increased a polarization of views or not. Social media is a powerful tool that is crucial to our communication in this modern world, but must be used with caution.

Isaac, M. (2016, November 12). Facebook, in Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said to Question Its Influence. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/technology/facebook-is-said-to-question-its-influence-in-election.html

Sanders, S. (2016, November 7). Social Media’s Increasing Role In The 2016 Presidential Election. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/11/07/500977344/social-media-s-role-increases-in-2016-presidential-election

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mereditherikson

I am a graduate from the University of North Texas who majored in journalism with a concentration in public relations and a minor in sociology. I aspire to work for any brand or organization that values social good, diversity, and creativity. I have advanced writing, communication, and social media skills. I love to write in a variety of styles, staying on top of current trends, and working with eclectic people.