Social Media Becoming Political Platform


Rayner Reinhardt, Staff Writer

Often times, it feels like we’re logging into our Facebook accounts with hopes of seeing our friend’s new puppy, or pictures from Aunt Jean’s trip to Rome. But lately, our newsfeed has been filled with “Let Hillary Clinton Roar,” or “Trump Made the Right Call on DACA.” 

It feels like as social media reaches its peak, political awareness does, too. It’s almost as if we can’t scroll down our feed without seeing at least one political post. Whether it’s an article on recent White House events or a shared opinion piece from CNN, the magnitude of these posts makes us all our own type of politico.  

“I feel very involved when I keep up with politics on social media,” freshman Sami Hewitt explained.  

But it’s not just us. Politicians use social media as a platform quite often, this past presidential election especially. Since the 2008 presidential election and Barack Obama’s successful use of social media, other politicians have turned to it to expand their message—and their following base. 

“A candidate may have a million subscribers, but will reach 10 million or 100 million people because of its viral effect,” Chris Saad, chief strategy director at Echo said for South University. “Everybody is seeing a ton of campaign content coming through, whether they like it or not.” 

Catonsville students understand this phenomenon, too.  

“[Donald] Trump and Twitter were one of the biggest platforms of the election. We all saw his tweets . . . it was a way to reach people,” junior Ava Metzbower said. “I like to use my social media to share opinions. I know it can be annoying to other people, but I think it’s important to get your message out for people who do care.” 

Although it’s usually the politically savvy people that follow politicians or post political things on Facebook or Twitter, the less politically savvy people see posts that are liked or commented on. The message is still shared all over the web.  

“I get most of my information about what’s happening from social media. It’s how I stay informed most of the time and I really like it,” senior Taneen Momeni said.  

Junior Anish Gandhi also noted that the rise of social media can be an advantage.  

“A lot of people see social media, or teenagers on their phones, as a bad thing . . . but we can use the power of the internet for outreach.”  

The process Gandhi describes is similar to the one that politicians use all the time. Politicians and their teams are smart. They specifically use social media to target younger generations. Like Gandhi said, even just seeing a small post can sway one’s opinion, and that’s the reaction politicians are trying to get.  

“From now on, social media will have a huge impact on elections,” said Hubert Massey, Business Director at South University. “With the speed of communications and the numbers of people involved, the impact has to be significant.” 

Although the rise of political messages is present, the ones displayed might change depending on audience. 

“Politicians will be influenced by what the media believes and how the media will react to decision they make. . . Politicians cater to the media,” freshman Nate Frenkel explained.  

There are negative aspects of the social media takeover as well.  

“It does get a little hectic; I never know what to believe. The media can be biased and I don’t want to be misinformed,” junior Astrid Jensen said.  

Gandhi touched on the same subject: “Obviously, tweets or other posts are going to be in favor of that politician . . . It’s good to be aware, but not misled.”   

Since social media isn’t monitored, the wrong messages, or false messages, can be spread as quickly as true information.  

“[Political posts have] a disadvantage because a lot of things are taken as being true when they aren’t. You have to go a little further to confirm what you are hearing,” Momeni explained. 

Frenkel agrees. “With all the fake news being spread . . . it’s hard to tell what you can trust,” he commented.  

Freshman Jacob Lewis doesn’t like the movement for a different reason. 

“Nobody resects people’s beliefs or thoughts, or even religions, on social media.” 

The multitude of political posts may also be reason for displeasure.  

“[Political posts] can get a little annoying. Everyone’s always fighting and nothing seems private anymore,” Hewitt said.