Current president Donald J.
Trump and candidate, Hillary Clinton were both apart of the most interesting and unorthodox presidential election in U.S. History. The 2016 election was the first presidential election to be dominated by social media and it’s the first time the social media has been dominated by a presidential election.
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Facebook, Twitter, and other social media was a huge outlet for far left and right extremists to bombard Americans timelines with videos and posts bashing the opposite side. MarketWatch called the rivalry the “Battle of Twittersburg” and Business Insider called it the “Twitter Election.” The election to many peoples eyes was gravely affected by the echo-chamber of mass media. The existence of the echo chambers and the idea that were are increasingly seeing things that we like and agree with, challenges the fundamental principles that democracy thrives on. Democracy is all about compromise with another and having to read, accept and understand opposing views is endangering to democracy. Escaping the echo chamber is difficult for majority Americans because it is in America’s nature to gravitate towards what people like to hear and block out what makes them disinclined.
The echo chamber affected greatly the 2016 election greatly because both candidates were heavily involved with social media, voters were exposed to bias opinions and people are naturally drawn entertainment. According to USA Today, Donald Trump tweeted a total of 4,994 times during his presidential campaign from November 8th, 2015 to November 8th, 2016. His tweets consisted of feuds with notable figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeff Sessions, Kim Jong Un, the Golden State Warriors and his former opponent “Crooked” Hillary Clinton. The nearly 60 million followers he has were bombarded daily with tweets bashing the Clinton administration. But, Trump did not come up with a lot of the tweet material on his own. Many of his ideas came from the predominantly right winged Fox News Station.
In 1998, Donald Trump told People Magazine, “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They are the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.
” The President had millions of so-called “dumb” Republicans brainwashed with only the touch of a little blue bird and 140 characters. Hillary Clinton according to wired.com has a total of 238.5 million social media shares. Her tweets consisted of petty replies to Mr. Trump, hopeless defenses to accusations against her, and witty one-liners. Her most popular tweet was one with deep and compelling meaning: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” Clinton’s approach on Twitter came off as much better crafted and politically driven than Trump’s but it also proved to be ineffective as Trump created more buzz and more followers both in his campaign and literal followers on Twitter.
Many hashtags were involved with Mrs. Clinton’s name such as #crookedhillary and #draintheswamp. The petty war of the 2016 election between two relatively older people caught the eyes of millions of drama-crazed Americans. The echo chamber expands far past just social media with CNN being a historically left side news and on the contrary, Fox News typically being right winged. During the election people even started calling the Cable News Network, “Clinton News Network”. To the average Republican on social media in 2015-2016, the odds of them seeing the phrase “FAKE NEWS” was very high, while them seeing #feelthebern was very unlikely. On the contrary, for left siders seeing #imwithher is almost guaranteed on a daily basis but seeing Hillary get called out for her email scandal was much less likely.
This is due to in part American stubbornness of only seeing what they want to see. It went as far as people unfriending friends and family on facebook because of the others political stance. According to a study done by cnsnews, 44 percent of consistent liberal facebook users have unfriended or blocked someone due to their political stance. “Birds of a feather flock together, and personal social networks tend to be homogenous, as people are more likely to befriend others like them.” (Boyd 439) The more Americans click, like and share stuff that resonates with our own world views the more Facebook feeds us with similar posts. This has progressively divided the political narrative into two distinct filter bubbles – one for conservatives and one for liberals, pulling the two further and further apart.
Facebook really contradicts itself in saying its message is to connect interworld and to keep an open mind but in return tailors users’ timelines to appropriate for their preferred political agenda. Instead of encouraging positive discussions, between the two parties it created two worlds within a world with the red feed and the blue feed. Newt Gingrich, said about the election, “This is not only about beating Hillary Clinton. It’s about breaking the elite media, which has become the phalanx of the establishment.” According to Pew Research, 61 percent of millennials use Facebook as their primary source for news about politics and government, but Facebook refuses to acknowledge its identity as a news source.
Rather, it maintains its focus on boosting ad serving volume and engagement rates. Which really makes one question: How much of what is read on social media actually true?Humans gravitate towards entertainment, and the 2016 election was full of Non-PC occurrences, that kept the users on their feet. Donald Trump is not your prototypical politician, he is real estate mogul, business man and more out of the ordinary a reality TV star. His show, The Apprentice foreshadowed his political tactics with his brash attitude and abrasive language. His outlandish comments were a big part path to victory.
Donald’s strategy much like Ronald Reagan’s in the 60’s was to reach the “silent majority” of America. On Twitter, his supporters invoke the slogan to answer the candidate’s critics adding, “Silent No More.” He quickly discovered in his road to presidency that the silent majority loves entertainment. Sadly, the news organizations are doing what the public wants. Some were amazed when the news departments of major networks were merged with sports and entertainment, with much of the ‘news’ becoming promotions for other things to watch. If people want a better informed public, first have a public that wants to be informed as much as entertained. Social Media exposed both candidates but many Americans didn’t see or refused to see it due to the echo chamber. Whether America got it right in the election is up for debate but there is no debate to the fact that the outcome was heavily due to the social media.
The echo chamber greatly swayed the results of the election because of the candidates having a healthy involvement in social media, voters seeing bias opinions, and people loving entertainment. Donald J. Trump carried himself with a sense of swagger and charisma on social media and he backed it up in person that caught the eye of middle class America. He detached himself and made a fool of the institutions of American political life.
Facebook and Twitter feeds are personalized based on recent clicks and likes trends , so we are mostly exposed political content that is similar to our views. Without realizing it, we develop tunnel vision. Rarely will our social media comfort zones expose us to opposing views, and because of that, we gradually become victims to our own preconceptions.
If Facebook and Twitter weren’t a thing who knows what would have happened in 2016 election.