The influence of social media on politics

Everyone is using social media to share and argue their opinions, but what effect has this had on the political world?

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Kiev Ukraine - 29/1/2015: Most popular social media icons on screen of smartphone close up. Social media are most popular tool for communication sharing information and content between people in internet network. Photo: Tashka2000, Bigstock

Ever since the mainstream use of social media became a reality it has become an integral part of many people’s everyday lives. With social platforms serving as a new space for people to share and argue opinions it’s no wonder that the world of politics has been affected by their rise use.

Politicians and voters alike have all used social media in different capacities in order to express their views and gather support. Every political party has their own page where they upload campaign messages and engage with their support base.

Many adults will proudly boast their political views online whereas it may have been less obvious in the real world.

Let’s discuss some of the way in which social media has influenced politics.

Increasing Political Awareness

While many people claim to be ignorant or uncaring of the political climate, it’s harder and harder for users of social media to avoid exposure to it.  Social media channels are littered with political opinions and debates from people who may have otherwise not participated.

The fact that people are not speaking their opinions in close proximity to one another makes them more confident to speak their minds or be deliberately inflammatory. Devices such as hashtags make it easier to bring exposure to and magnify the debate on particular political issues.

The wide reach and accessibility of social media has allowed more and more everyday people to become politically active in different capacities. Social media’s facilitation of viral trends helps to push political campaigns into the public consciousness, especially as more and more people habitually use these platforms.

Communication with Voters

Political parties have not underestimated the power of social media in marketing their cause. This medium allows politicians to maintain public profiles that imply their active engagement with their support bases.

Not only do social media platforms allow politicians to communicate more directly with voters, but to specifically target messages to them. Social media allows for targeting based on demographics that make sure a relevant message reaches the right people.

Controversy

Social media has made the spreading of controversy faster than ever. Misinformation and scandals are quickly spread on the constantly updating news feeds of people all around the world.

There are countless examples of politicians being implicated in scandals that would never have come to light if it wasn’t for social media. More recently some politicians have famously used social media as their primary means of addressing issues rather than relying on more formal statements.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool in the spreading and dissemination of information in the modern age. The world of politics has been significantly influenced by the widespread use of social media and it’s likely this influence will only continue to grow.