By Maritza Ramos
In these times of political turmoil, social media has served as a way for the average American citizen to express their political opinion. Including our president, Americans have curated their personal profiles and feeds to express their opinions and beliefs about the way in which they believe the American government and its politicians should function. What’s interesting, alongside the information on fake news and government censoring, is how these very same social media platforms that allow us to broadcast our opinions tell us more about ourselves. For example, the data garnered about certain groups of people is plenty due to surveillance on the part of these organizations.
For example, a New York Times article from August 2016 details the ways in which Facebook can determine your political ideology. Usually, it goes off of the pages you like and what you declare yourself on your profile but if you do not particularly like anything, it can determine it from the other tastes that you have in common with most people of a certain ideology.
What’s more important about this, besides, you know, the fact that your social media providers are categorizing you, is that this data is being strategically collected in order to make “feed” stuff to you or purposely place certain ads in your way that can influence your behavior.
But besides social media serving as a place to document how certain people lean politically, there are many people that believe Facebook or Twitter are not the place for one to share one’s beliefs. An article on the NYPost by Karol Markowicz titled “You’re ruining Facebook (and friendships) with political rants” states that though one should always have a voice, Facebook and other social media platforms are not the place to go to use one’s voice. This is particularly interesting to me because though Markowicz argues this, it does not stop these social media platforms from wanting to categorize people by political party or ideology and then using this data to influence people politically.
Markowicz, Karol. “You’re ruining Facebook (and friendships) with political rants”. Nypost.com October 9, 2016. http://nypost.com/2016/10/09/youre-ruining-facebook-and-friendships-with-
political-rants/ February 5, 2017.
Merrill, Jeremy B. “Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You.” August 23, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/us/politics/facebook-ads-politics.html February 5, 2017.