News from the Edge

Social media's role in the 2016 election

Posted by Jennifer Tule on Nov 4, 2016 10:34:00 AM

As we near the end of this U.S. presidential election cycle I, like many people I know, have had my fill of the election coverage.  We knew it would be lengthy (it was), we knew it would get contentious (it did) and we knew that the facts, fabrications and exaggerations would be plenty (they were).  However what struck me this time around was how social media as an instrument of information sharing felt very different from previous elections.

social media apps.jpgOne could feel a tidal wave of awareness rising and growing as many Americans were getting to know Barack Obama, a one term United States senator from Illinois running for president.   Social media was expertly used to take a somewhat unknown candidate, help introduce him to the nation, and ultimately elect him to the presidency.  The difference was that there was a groundswell of users eager to share and communicate facts.  The ways in which social media users chose to use this medium was dramatically different this year compared to eight years ago.  In the last few months I have caught myself many times wondering “do they really believe this?” as I saw so many folks I know retweet or “like” statements and stories in which truth seemed secondary to sensationalism.   So many stories felt like fake news, opinions that someone had turned into something that resembled a journalistic piece.  It reminded me of a post we had earlier this year, What is news?

Whether it is a presidential election, a global event or corporate maneuver, it is important to take the time to find the facts and base your decisions on reliable information.  In our 24x7 information world readers need to be aware; stories based on real journalism may not the prevailing source.   

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Topics: News, social media, journalism

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