Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

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
Opinion
  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • 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

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    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

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014