Biting your tongue is a concept long forgotten. The internet – especially social media – allows us to express our thoughts and views in an instantaneous and uncensored manner.
There is no better example of this than the 2012 election. Social media has forever revolutionized how we interact with politics by taking what was once a completely one-sided process and making it reciprocal.d uncensored manner.
Yet the question remains whether this is truly influential in the big picture. Has social media helped swing voters decisions? Or is it simply a means for feedback and connections?
Those answers don’t come easily. Studies and predictions have stemmed from digital discussions surrounding the Presidential debates. Trending topics on Twitter and Facebook have given us insight as to what the “hot button” issues truly are.
According to an infographic breakdown of social media comments from Livefyre, the three biggest deciding factors in this election will be: jobs, taxes and oil/gas. Therefore, we know on which topics consumers are focused, but not necessarily if the internet has played a role in forming those opinions.
Social media networks are based on self-expression – and a glance at your Facebook newsfeed is all the proof you need that this often means the sharing of strong statements and overtly obvious opinions. What occurs less, then, is the posting of intelligently formed questions and truly open curiosity on those trending topics.
For example, about a third of social media users in the U.S. report posting their feelings about politics or promoting political content. Although these are likely a reflection of personal views, 35% of users also say they’ve used social media to encourage others to vote. This is valuable when it comes to keeping the election date top-of-mind, especially if done in a bi-partisan way.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 79% of liberals use social sites, compared to only 63% of conservatives. Many users on these networks have friends with similar backgrounds and ideals – leaving little room for voter persuasion.
This unbalance in user demographics further demonstrates the true purpose of social media: connecting and conversing. For instance, the Presidential debate in Denver generated 10.3 million tweets in 90 minutes – largely all personal responses to the discussion.
While social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have undeniably changed how we are able to discuss political issues and engage with others, they may not necessarily be the best outlets in which to build a knowledge base. For that, we’ll stick to Google.
Have you noticed an increase in political posts on social media? Have you ever unfollowed or blocked a friend because of it? Let us know in the comments below!
Here’s more on the recently launched Google Voter Information Tool, via Mashable.