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Social Media’s Augmenting Effects on Politics

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10584609.2018.1426662

The article, titled “The Political Significance of Social Media Activity and Social Networks,” employs a cross-lagged design to study how common forms of online activity by youth generate connections to forms of political activity. It compares the influence of Friendship-Driven (FD) and Interest-Driven (ID) online youth activity on online politics and offline political activism. This comparison yields some interesting results:

  1. Being exposed to “weak ties” as a result of being in a large social network promoted higher levels of political action.
  2. There is a profound lack of studies into what types of online activities the youth engage in, and what results in terms of politics within social networks and social media.

All of these factors are multiplied by the size of a young individual’s social network as the network interacts with both FD and ID online activity. The first generation where the World-Wide-Web played a chief role in their development was the mid-1990s. These individuals who grew up alongside Web 2.0, depended on the Internet and digital mass media to learn about societal norms and customs, with more than 90% of teens reporting that they go online every day. With a 49% surge in social media users from late teens to late-twenties, it’s no surprise that the web would play such a pivotal role in structuring the way in which these young users constructed their social networks.

One of many social networks in which select teens participate in was politics (and how teens engage in it). Those in their teens are just a small part of a much larger scheme of accruing a legitimate base of supporters and building enough momentum for a politician in any race to stick out. Within these campaigns, the Internet has been increasing its impact every race, and continues to do so. It is used in how “campaign funds are raised, information is accessed, perspectives are shared and discussed, and individuals are mobilized to act politically.” Not only the campaigns of politicians, but this also applies to campaigns of political¬†movements. Some examples include Black Lives Matter, the DREAMer movement, and Never Again MSD. All these pages take root in the web, and are shared and linked on multiple pages that not only share the same view (as expected), but they are also linked on pages that are antithetical to the original page strangely enough. By testing the hypotheses that these FD and ID activity will bolster political through developing essential skills within politics and generating more online social networks – which only leads to increased exposure.

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