Rebekah’s Report: Social media changes modern elections

Over the past six months, I’ve been seeing Youtube videos and memes all over my Facebook and Twitter about this presidential election. I’m not one to usually share very much of anything political on my social media accounts, but I saw one earlier that I could not resist.

It was called “Proof that Donald Trump is your drunk neighbor.” It featured a guy dressed up in a red, white and blue shirt with an American flag bandana around his head surrounded by beers and sitting on his front porch. The voice of Donald Trump saying his most ridiculous ideas was played while the guy acted drunk and mimicked Trump’s words.

And then I began thinking about how social media has really influenced our opinions of presidents and public figures.

President Barack Obama recently gave some words of advice to Kanye West, who announced his interest in running for the 2020 election. In it, Obama said, “In case Kanye is serious about his whole POTUS thing, or as he calls it, Peezy, I do have advice for him.” Throughout the video, the audience was laughing and clapping with his jokes, and Obama was smiling and giggling, too. BBC News, The Guardian magazine, and Business Insider magazine shared the video, and it got global recognition.

If social media were around when Franklin Roosevelt was president, would we have seen the New Deal in a different light? If social media was present when Abraham Lincoln was shot, how would the world have reacted?

Some media outlets, like The Hill newspaper and BBC News, are calling this campaign the “Social Media Election” because Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are so vital to campaigns. Social media was used in 2010, but this election has seen an increase in interaction on different platforms.

The popular hashtags, such as #feelthebern and #bernbabybern, have played to democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ advantage. During campaign rallies and debates, these hashtags have become trending hashtags, increasing awareness of Sanders’ campaign.

Even I have been guilty of posting a status or two about a social issue that’s important to me.

Another example of social media being important for the 2016 presidential election is tweets sent throughout debates. Viewers have been able to tweet candidates during the republican and democrat debates their questions, concerns and praises. It’s increased interaction

positively for the most part. Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina have started using live-streaming apps called Meerkat and Periscope. These apps are ways for the candidates to share important news immediately and respond to users in a transparent way, all through their smartphone.

A recent study by Pew Research Center indicated just how many Americans have been involved in some way with social media and platforms they’re passionate about. According to the study, 38 percent of social media users have promoted some political or social issue. More interestingly, 35 percent of social media users have used their accounts to encourage people to vote, and 31 percent encourage others to take action on a political or social issue. A quarter of social media users have said that they took more interest in political or social issues after reading about them on social media platforms.

People are able to take the election and the news with them wherever they go with data plans and Internet. Our mobility is having an affect on how we see what’s going on day-to-day in the election process. We’re able to see news updates from our favorite candidates, and we’re also able to see immediately when a candidate makes a mistake. It’s a blessing and a curse, but it’s definitely a way to get more involved.