Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

November 14, 2012

How much did Twitter influence election?

In years past, American citizens watched presidential debates and then heard television commentary afterward, or read a description in the following day’s paper. For the debates of 2012, the setup had entirely changed. Now, instead of focusing on the debate and then attaining feedback, citizens were able to see live, moment-to-moment coverage of the debates. While this may seem to be beneficial, one must realize the source of this coverage: the social networking/micro-blogging site, Twitter.

In 140 characters or less, members of Twitter (more than 500 million worldwide) can “Tweet” about anything and everything — from what they ate for breakfast that morning, to where Hurricane Sandy was predicted to hit, to how the presidential candidates were performing in the debates. Essentially, people could sit and watch the debate on television while simultaneously tweeting about it from their laptops.

By using a hashtag (the # symbol), people worldwide can see what is “trending” and join in conversations from thousands of miles away. During the presidential debates, “#Election2012” or “#Debate2012” was frequently trending, which enticed more and more people to tweet their opinions or beliefs regarding the topic.

From the standpoint of a college student, this easy access to social networking and concurrent political news can be seen in both positive and negative lights. For example, one of my best friends (also a college student) is an ardent political follower and advocate. Being able to see his tweets regarding the debates as they happened gave me an entirely new insight to some of the topics being discussed. Since I trust my friend’s comments and value his opinion, I gain even more knowledge by watching the debates and being on Twitter simultaneously.

On the other hand, however, I have heard many of my classmates say that they are basing their political opinions solely on what they read on Twitter. As far as I can tell, these classmates have not watched the debates and are relying on the information tweeted by those whom they “follow” online. In fact, I heard someone utter the scary phrase that he “didn’t need to watch the debate because he got all the information he needed from Twitter.”

This year I made the decision to become more politically informed. I discussed socially relevant political topics with my friends; I tried to stay up to date by reading current news articles online; I watched the televised debates; and I used Twitter. If correct judgment is used, I believe that social networking sites such as Twitter can be a valuable resource for the exchange and dissemination of information. While being cautious and taking some of this online information with a grain of salt, we can use information found on Twitter as a springboard for our own investigation.

It is often said that the young people of America (college students, like myself) should “get more involved” in politics and vote so that our voices can be heard. But what if our voices are being influenced, and even manipulated by, social networking sites? How many votes cast for our nation’s president were based solely on information that people read on Twitter? We have entered into an entirely new age, where social media plays a much more influential role than we typically take into consideration.

Erin Giles

LaVale

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Life-saving law Life-saving law

    Not many pieces of legislation to come out of Annapolis can be described as a matter of life or death. But the CPR law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley is just that.
    Known as Brenna’s Law, the legislation requires that all Maryland high schoolers will be required to complete CPR training as part of the graduation requirement.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wildfires Wildfires

    The huge woods fire in nearby Pennsylvania shows just how much devastation can take place when a blaze breaks out during early spring. In this case, 900 acres of forest — much of it public game land — became engulfed in flames.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restore them Restore them

    There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
    bring these men and women some dignity after death.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Happy Easter

    For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
    The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
     

    April 20, 2014

  • We concur We concur

    We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
    When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo