Twitter, the supposed diary of teenagers everywhere, is now being incorporated into more serious issues, such as presidential elections. In the upcoming 2012 election, both campaigns are strongly utilizing Twitter in an attempt to inform a wider variety of people.
Both candidates, @BarackObama and @MittRomney, have active twitter accounts that tweet a substantial number everyday to their 19,912,099 followers and 1,135,457 followers, respectively. Keep in mind, however, Obama has been the President of the United States for the past four years.
Mrs. Dow, Leesville’s AP Government teacher, thinks social media sites are becoming a much larger part of politics. She said, “I see a lot of debates, pictures and one-liners posted on Facebook. However, it is hard to gauge how many people pay attention to them.”
According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Many voters, especially those who were voting in a political election for the first time, used social media sites to talk to their friends about the voting process as well as posting a record of their experience in pictures and video.”
New voters are engulfed in a generation that is technologically obsessed. Teenagers rely on social media sites to share their opinions and gives them easier access to info.
Preston Nix, senior, said, “It helps get the message out to kids.”
Both presidential candidate’s Twitters are run by their campaign staff. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, however, describe in their bio that the tweets that are actually by them are signed -bo and -joe. Signing their tweets ensure that people does not incorrectly assume that Obama tweets everything himself. For example, on 9/11, Obama tweeted, “As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with the lesson that no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. -bo.”
Both accounts are used to portray their political views by linking to pictures, videos, and articles. Romney’s does seem, however, to direct more of his quotes at Obama; he even directly tags @BarackObama in his tweets. That is not to say that Obama does not attack Romney at all, but he never actually tags Romney in any of his tweets.
In an article How the Presidental Candidates Use the Web and Social Media, experts explain that 55% of Obama’s tweets focus on promoting his accomplishments and 52% of Romney’s are focused on himself. However, Romney also dedicates 34% of his tweets at attacking Obama, compared to Obama’s 14% regarding Romney.
Discussions and arguments can ignite quickly on social media sites because often someone will post a one-liner or brief opinion and people will comment if they agree or disagree.
Dow said, “I think the increased social media use is good because it inspires conversation. But it can also create apathy, if people’s post become too negative or attacking.”
How reliable is Twitter, though?
“It is easier to distort or misconstrue information online or when it is typed, rather than said aloud,” said Nix.
Less political savvy citizens need to be weary that not everything said on Twitter is the truth.
Rebecca Hawthorne, senior, said, “I think that people who would follow the presidential candidates are already interested in politics, so it does not really influence as many people as you would think.”
An article on Desert News, said, “Only 5 percent of Americans get any political news whatsoever from Twitter.”
In addition to Twitter, students also use Facebook as a way to gain political knowledge.
“I follow Barack Obama on Facebook, and he posts videos and posters pertaining to his campaign. It’s harder to ignore. You might see something and then want
to go research it more,” said Hawthorne.