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Information Cascades in Social Media for Presidential Elections

One of the biggest plot twists in modern history was the result of our most recent presidential election. Regardless of whether you were glad with the results or disappointed, there’s no denying that this election marked a significant change in the way the presidential campaigns were run. All candidates did their usual TV promos and campaign trails through various states, but they also utilized social media as an additional platform to promote themselves and their parties. The extent to which these was used was revolutionary in itself because of its reflection of how much technology has advanced in recent years, but also due to the fact that the usage of social media had greater tangential effects than could have been expected.

As the article linked below describes, the algorithms used by the bigger social media platforms ensure that your news feed is composed of content similar to your own content, as well as your interests. In everyday practice, this means you get dog videos instead of cat videos if you’re a dog person. In the election period, however, this meant that users of these platforms would only see political commentary that lined up with their own beliefs. This, in itself, is problematic because of the foundation of a democratic government is the co-existence of two sides, so remaining ignorant of views that oppose your own leave users uninformed and in an echo chamber. Even worse is the fact that this led to extreme polarization of the two main parties. The resulting information cascades of only like-minded content thus put the American population as voters in an ill-informed, ignorant position. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see the role information cascades in social media will play in future elections.

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