The 2016 presidential election is evidently receiving mass attention from the public, but it isn’t solely due to exclusive interviews, presidential debates or advertisements. Ordinary citizens are using social media to actively publicize many events and scandals surrounding the presidential election in order to interact with politics and express their opinions.
According to the Pew Research Center, six out of 10 millennials, generally defined as those born between the early 1980s and 1999, reported reading weekly political news on Facebook. Now, more than ever, teenagers use social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to educate themselves about politics and advocate their beliefs through concise posts, and likes or retweets on content that coincides with their views.
“I use Facebook because that’s where the majority of people post their unbiased views compared to other sources,” sophomore Prithvi Kinariwala said.
Social media has enabled our generation to connect with politics in a way older generations have never experienced, thus shaping our political viewpoints for the upcoming election.
“I think social media is great as a source in the sense that it’s up to date, goes viral and information spreads very quickly,” sophomore Tyler Thompson said.
When it comes to politics, it is extremely important to differentiate between biased and unbiased sources in order to accumulate accurate information.
“When you log onto social media, a lot of it is tilted very much to the left rather than being neutral information, which is a natural consequence due to the demographics of people[in this area],” Thompson said.
With a variety of social media sites available with a click of an app, information is now presented to news consumers in different ways, which creates a shared experience that promotes conversations in and out of the classroom.
“Social media gets teenagers more involved in the election because [they] don’t have the time to sit down and digest long articles,” junior Tanvi Nallanagula said. “[However] that has a drawback [as] you don’t get the full idea of what’s happening [politically].”
Social media posts about controversial topics such as Clinton’s email scandal and Trump’s sexual assault statements went viral, demonstrating that teenagers typically pay attention to current affairs.
A lingering question that may arise is why young people utilize social media to engage in political discourse.
“[I use social media for political purposes] because I don’t want to research every single topic on every candidate, and it is easier [to have] short clips of people saying things,” Kinariwala said.
Regardless of how young people feel about politics, social media has become an essential tool to promote the youth to speak their minds and influence public thought.