The role of social media in politics

The Internet has created communication channels that play a key role in the dissemination of political information. Social media can change not only the message, but also the dynamics of political corruption, values and political conflict.

1. As a source of news

American adults are increasingly using social media platforms to access political news and information, especially at election time. Social media platforms, led by Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, are where most users get their news and information.

According to the 2013 Reuters Digital News Report, the percentage of online news users who post news issues on blogs ranges from 1-5%. A much larger percentage uses social media to comment on news, with participation rates ranging from 8% in Germany to 38% in Brazil. However, online news users are most likely to simply talk about online news with friends offline or use social media to share stories without creating content.

The rapid spread of information on social media, through word of mouth, can quickly influence the perceptions of politicians through information that may or may not be true. The dissemination of information on social media for political purposes can benefit campaigns when it is intentional to spread political information in this way. On the other hand, word-of-mouth transmission of negative information about a politician can be destructive.

2. Attention Economy

Social media, especially news disseminated through social media sites, play the role of an attention economy.

Communication platforms such as social media are persuasive and often change or influence opinions when it comes to political views due to the vast array of ideas, thoughts and opinions that are disseminated through social media platforms. Research has found that news use can lead to political persuasion. Therefore the more people use social media platforms as a news source, the more their political views are influenced. Nonetheless, people's trust in government and others decreases as a result of media use - so social media directly affects trust in media use. Reading newspapers has been shown to increase social trust, and conversely, watching television news diminishes trust in others and news sources.

Social media, or more specifically the news media, play an important role in democratic societies because they allow for citizen participation. Therefore, when it comes to a healthy democratic network, it is crucial that news remains authentic so that it does not affect the level of trust of citizens. A certain level of trust is necessary for a healthy and well-functioning democracy.

Today, younger generations are becoming more politically engaged due to the increasing amount of political news being posted on various social media outlets. As younger generations use social media more frequently, they are more frequently exposed to politics. While it is important to keep the younger generation informed about political news, the fact is that there is a lot of bias in the social media sphere.