Presentation Title

Democracy's Newest Enemy: Social Media

Faculty Mentor

Misty Kolchakian

Start Date

23-11-2019 9:15 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 9:30 AM

Location

Markstein 101

Session

oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

With the world becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology, Presidential campaigns in the United States have grown more vulnerable to outside influences shaping public opinion. Social media acts as an intermediary for people across the country to engage in political discourse. In this study, social media is examined in terms of being an influence in the democratic process during the 2016 United States Presidential election, which featured an increase in the use of “Free media”, defined as publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising or branding. While traditional media has consistently been labeled as a driving force in influencing thought (Cohen, 1963), the rise of social media introduces a new player: one that is free from regulation. The Internet has essentially become a playground, not subject to traditional litmus tests used to verify authenticity in traditional media outlets, such as major news networks, newspapers, and articles. After reviewing social media strategies in concordance with the consumer’s age, education, and consumption of media, there is strong evidence that social media can be a leading factor in the outcome of elections, due to the ability to tailor stories to the individual, rather than a mass audience. While there is no demonstrated effort to explicitly force a candidate upon a voter, the promotion of biased media to certain individuals can certainly be a plausible factor in the choice of a candidate. While Congress continues to explore the responsibility of sites to verify the information uploaded by users, consumers must be conscious of the media that is directed toward them. As American society heavily creeps into a world that is almost entirely based on technology, it is imperative to be aware that not all information presented is to be taken at face value.

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Nov 23rd, 9:15 AM Nov 23rd, 9:30 AM

Democracy's Newest Enemy: Social Media

Markstein 101

With the world becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology, Presidential campaigns in the United States have grown more vulnerable to outside influences shaping public opinion. Social media acts as an intermediary for people across the country to engage in political discourse. In this study, social media is examined in terms of being an influence in the democratic process during the 2016 United States Presidential election, which featured an increase in the use of “Free media”, defined as publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising or branding. While traditional media has consistently been labeled as a driving force in influencing thought (Cohen, 1963), the rise of social media introduces a new player: one that is free from regulation. The Internet has essentially become a playground, not subject to traditional litmus tests used to verify authenticity in traditional media outlets, such as major news networks, newspapers, and articles. After reviewing social media strategies in concordance with the consumer’s age, education, and consumption of media, there is strong evidence that social media can be a leading factor in the outcome of elections, due to the ability to tailor stories to the individual, rather than a mass audience. While there is no demonstrated effort to explicitly force a candidate upon a voter, the promotion of biased media to certain individuals can certainly be a plausible factor in the choice of a candidate. While Congress continues to explore the responsibility of sites to verify the information uploaded by users, consumers must be conscious of the media that is directed toward them. As American society heavily creeps into a world that is almost entirely based on technology, it is imperative to be aware that not all information presented is to be taken at face value.