Indulge Me – Politics – Social Media

January 21, 2012

I am not a fan of politics to the point where I would rather gauge my eyes out with a rusty spoon. However I understand the ‘importance’ of it’s role, and its role in Social Media. Or rather Social Media’s role in politics.

Lets start with a definition of democracy from good ol Wikipedia, “Democracy in it’s purest or most ideal form would be a society in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions tha affect their lives.”

Here is Dahl’s (1971) Empirical conditions for democracy. It involves  the election of officials through free and fair democracy, it also allows the right for all citizens to run for public office. This leads to freedom of expression.

Information is important to the democratic process as only an informed citizen can cast an informed vote. In order to make meaningful discussions, citizens of democratic societies must have knowledge of social issues and understand the political system.

Ah the internet, lets have a chat about that and its democratic potential. It features include an unmediated access to a wide range of information and like citizen journalism it has low barriers of entry. It also offers a global reach of a connected network. This is effective because anonymity can remove social stereotypes and hierarchy, and brakes down the barrier between producer and consumer.

The rise and increase in social media content has further enhanced the Internets democratic potential, An example of this would be  politicians using social media to gain votes such as Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Obama used social media to increase awareness of his campaign this engaged citizens to take a more active and direct role. He used Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to encourage voters support and amplify his campaign through their own networks. This led to a  group called the Jewish Council for Education and Research, who were behind ‘The Great Schlep’, which encouraged young Jews to go to Florida to nudge their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama for president.

However there are draw backs in the rise of social media involving politics. This would involve an information overload which questions quality of online discussions, leading to a lack of accountability.

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