Social Media and its Effects in Politics: The Factors that Influence Social Media use for Political News and Social Media use Influencing Political Participation

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The Ohio State University

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Political participation is an important part of democracy that has been long studied. A key part of democracy is to have citizens go out and vote, but when we look at voter turnout we can see that the number of citizens that vote has decreased over the last one hundred years. There are factors that can influence political participation: race, education, age, etc. (Wolfinger and Rosenstone). With the new forms of technology (i.e. social media) that citizens have access to, will it provide an opportunity for more citizens to participate in our democracy? Social media will be another factor that influences your political participation, specifically on voter turnout due to information social media provides for the citizen. Social media can be a challenging concept to define, since there are different arguments about what counts as social media. For this paper, social media will be defined as any websites or applications that we can use to receive political information (twitter, Facebook, CNN, etc.). Social media has become a part of our daily lives and we could make the argument that young people are at the helm of this shift in society. People seem to assume that young people (18-24) use social media for everything, but would that be true when it comes to how they get their political news and would that then influence this age group to vote. In Who Votes? By Wolfinger and Rosenstone, 18-24 year olds had one of the lowest voter turnouts out of all the different age groups except for the 79+ age group, but social media should have an effect on this particular age group political participation (38). Looking at data can show us how much social media use can change, given different factors that are important to who participates in the political process. In the book, Voice and Equality by Verba, Schlozman, and Brady, highlights that political information is one of the factors that can predict political participation, which is one 3 of the many ways that social media/media in general can help increase political participation because citizens can have access to news and information easily (417). This can then have a larger effect on the outcome of the election, because if social media can influence political participation this could have an impact on voter participation. There hasn’t been a lot of research done that looks at what the correlation of social media is in comparison to person identities (race, income, party, and education), but there has been research done on social media and its relation to political participation. Both of these are important questions in the study of how social media affects our political system. There are the two main themes that come from the prior research on this topic and they include: political participation and age related to social media use, which can help us understand the themes that are happening with the data that was collected.



Social Media, Political Science, Political Participation, Internet