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Social Media and The 2016 Election

By       Message Thomas Pallan     Permalink
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What would we do without social media? Today 78 percent of U.S. citizens own a social-media account for connecting with others and voicing their opinions. From millennials all the way back to the baby boomers, social media is one of the few things these distant generations share in common. With the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump having finally come to historical conclusion, I began to question how much influence today's social media truly played a role in one's perception of each candidate and how the people will react post-election utilizing social media as a platform.

Whether you visit a social-media site for a purpose to speak to someone, voice an opinion, or even out of pure boredom, it is almost impossible to do so without coming across an angry conservative uncle's political rant and a far left classmate's post containing yet another Donald Trump controversial quote or reason why our country has chosen the wrong president-elect. According to research from Ipsos Mori, more than a third of an experimental group indicated that reading something on social media would influence their vote. As these social-media sites are taking the millennial population by storm and these people find their opinion greatly influenced by these links and statuses posted by their friends and families, it can be seen as beneficial in that they can gain some perspective from each side of the spectrum. Along with this positive attribute comes a slightly greater negative aspect. The fact that those who take the time to post these links and rants slandering their opposition, proves that ultimately what they have to say is biased towards one side while potentially not even being 100 percent credible sources. Even if that short article you stumble across on Facebook is of a completely valid source, all it takes is that one short read to persuade a reader to make up their mind without delving further into the subject the to learn more about it. With the access of social media at our fingertips after just the click of a button, unfortunately it tends to sway the public opinion drastically by not forcing one to go out, watch debates, read newspaper articles, and develop their own opinions based on the political ideologies and policies each candidate proposed rather than who said or did what ten to fifteen years ago. With that being said, each candidate began increasing their ad-spending budgets on social-media sites as well as even creating their own accounts to reach out with and connect with those on each site.

With the preface of how influential social media can be during pre-election times, I decided to also analyze the social-media scene post-election. Since the people have made their decision, and Donald Trump became the president-elect, social media has been a war zone for proud Republicans and disappointed Democrats. The second I logged onto Facebook the morning after the election results came in I was bombarded by posts relating to the surprising yet controversial decision. This election marks the 5th time in US history that the winner actually did not win the popular vote, most recently occurring when George Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000. It wasn't until 2016 that this situation has such created an uproar of dissatisfied citizens. With that being said, social-media sites have become a platform for organizing protests in large cities, signing petitions to reverse the public's decision, and even attempting to rid our country of its electoral-college system for electing the president. While scrolling through posts I came across a petition that stated the Electoral Colleges actually vote again on December 19th to decide who gets the presidency. Historically, 99% of electors have "voted as pledged" and chosen the president-elect, but a petition that deems Trump "unfit to serve" has been created and continuously shared using social-media sites as a platform in hopes it can snowball into a something with enough substance to make a historical change. This petition has accumulated over 3.5 million signatures already and is exponentially growing. Although the odds of this petition actually forcing the hands of our electoral elects to change the country's decision is highly unlikely, it is fascinating and exciting to see how the social-media platform has played such a large role attempting to get the people's voice heard, potentially change the president-elect, and ultimately solidifying the 2016 election as the craziest election in our nation's rich history.

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Social Media and The 2016 Election