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Presidential Election Through Social Networks

With the growth of social networking websites, the importance of their roles in the politics has been on a continuous rise. Now that the 2012 Presidential Campaign began, prowess and influences of the social networks became clearer. According to the article written by Bykowicz of Bloomberg News, two dominant social networks, Facebook and Twitter, have been used as a political tool for both candidates, Obama and Romney, in ’12 election. Also these social networks have been updating their users’ views on the two candidates. However, this trend could also lead to under-representation of people who do not use these social networks.

Within four years, campaign methods have changed a lot. Campaign teams now put strong emphasis on communicating with the voters through social networks, blogs, and web venues. According to the article, there are more than 100,000 political pages on Facebook. On Facebook, both candidates have multiple pages for them. On Twitter, President Obama has 19 million followers, “making his account the sixth-most popular in the world,” said Bykowicz. Presidential candidate Romney also has more than 1 million followers on Twitter.

Like another blogger (screen name jaf287) mentioned below, a Twitter Political Index (TPI) surveys its users how they think of the two candidates. TPI scores represent how much “tweets about him are more positive than” all other tweets. Facebook also keep track of how its users feel about the two candidates “through the volume of Facebook activity about the election”, said Bykowicz.

In these days, social networks make it easier for both candidates and voters to participate in the election by tracking the sentiments of the users. For the candidates, they provide a great venue to share their messages and advertise their actions. For the voters, they also create unlimited space to discuss the speeches and actions of the candidates and share their thoughts on them.

However, there are still many people who are not very familiar with online social networks. Just like how global network cannot be fully connected, social network cannot be used as a sole campaign tool yet. According to Sensis’ Social Media Report, the most frequent users of these social networks are females and under the age of 30. With more and more political campaigns focused on using social networks as an important political tool, less frequent users of social networks might be at a disadvantage.

Also, there’s a possibility that these social networks could be hacked and fake database to show fabricated statistics or data. It is possible for one to manipulate the system to use it for his or her favor. Therefore, social networks are certainly useful to both candidates and voters, but people should be wary of the fact that these tools cannot replace the whole political system and sometimes can be misleading.




Social Media has key role in ’12 election (news article)

USA Today/Twitter Election Meter

CNN & Facebook Insights

Social Media statistics


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