Social Media’s Impact on Politics

President Obama created his first Facebook page this past Monday. He currently has over 900,000 likes but that number will soon become dated by the time this blog is posted. Since the page is fairly new there is not a lot of content posted yet but there are a few pictures, milestones and a brief about me section. The goal of the page is to make communication easier between the president and U.S citizens. His first post was a video of him on the South Lawn discussing the importance of spreading awareness about climate change. This post currently has over 200,000 likes, over 45,000 shares and almost 40,000 comments.

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I for one am thrilled that the president decided to do this and am wondering why did it even take this long? Other politicians should follow in the president’s footsteps and create their own pages. The president is trying to be more transparent and accessible to his constituents. While in theory this is brilliant, one issue that I’m concerned with this is how genuine is the experiencing going to be? With all of the traffic that seems inevitable to come through, how will my interaction with the president change? It will be almost impossible for the president to respond to all of the comments on his posts. This seems important in order to make citizens feel like the president is actually trying to interact with you directly. It will be interesting to see where this page goes and how well is it used by the president.

We live in a day and age where politicians on all levels are trying to leverage social media for various reasons. Being from Pennsylvania, I keep tabs on my governor, Tom Wolf, through his twitter account. He post about a large variety of items both political and personal. His and many other politician’s social media accounts are very important while they hold position and while they campaign. Their accounts help to spread important news about political issues occurring at their level in the political spectrum. Social media also provides a platform to spread the views of politicians and how they will go about trying to turn their views into actions. This is especially effective when their followers share this information and spread it to an even larger base. Since politics is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business, being able to stay connected to your constituents at a more personal level is critical to their success.

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Another important aspect about their social media accounts is the day-to-day activities that they post about. While these posts do not provide very useful information to their constituents, they are able to humanize the politicians. A lot of times politicians may feel out of reach with many of their citizens and posting about their personal lives helps curious constituents keep tabs on their politicians. These personal posts can help people see why politicians are so passionate about specific issues that may otherwise seem difficult or confusing to support.

Social media has transformed the political landscape forever. With the Internet and social media, people can track every move that a politician makes, whether they like it or not. Social media provides politicians with the ability to clear up any confusion or problem before rumors turn the issue into something deadly for their careers. With that being said, social media can also reveal a politicians unattractive qualities and actions to the masses that may not have been popularly known. Social media’s transparent attribute is what makes it so intertwine with politics and this trend will probably continue until the next great breakthrough in communication.

8 comments

  1. Great post! Do you think that Obama and other politicians will also start branching out into other platforms as well such as Instagram or snapchat? I feel that in terms of social media politicians are almost like celebrities. I just have to wonder if Obama is actually running his own account or if he has someone doing it for him, it is so hard to tell nowadays!

    1. I think they should be on IG & Snapchat. Politicians would be able to hit a larger audience, especially young adults.

  2. Interesting. I wonder what legal issues had to be solved on the Back end for Obama finally to be allowed a FB profile? Must have been something like that, because it seems odd that he’d get on now.

  3. Very interesting summation of social media and its impact on politics. I was discussing this issue with my roommate a few days ago, actually. I agree that it is good to humanize the candidates and allow the people to have more connection to them via social media. My roommate brought up another point about today’s connection with politicians in that it is difficult for politicians to actually lead. Social media puts pressure on politicians to do exactly as the public desires because they have this constant voice from the public about different issues. Before this time, politicians could actually lead and make decisions based on what they thought was right. Of course, it is still possible to do this today but much harder because they are constantly reminded through social media. I do not know if it is better or worse that the public has more of a say but maybe something interesting to look into for future blog posts?

  4. Thanks for sharing. I agree with you that social media ca serve to humanize politicians as well as improve connections with constituents. I also agree that because of the transparency we learn of the unattractive qualities of politicians. Donald Trump deleting tweets that dissed Iowa voters is a perfect example of the aforementioned. That said, it is plausible that lesser known and most well known politicians are in charge of their accounts. It is more difficult for me to believe that Presidents and other high profile politician will be in charge of the day-to-day management of their accounts. I would want to think that this task will fall under the purview of their staff. After all, retired US Presidents are entitled to a private office staff. So while the idea of President Obama and future presidents having Facebook accounts is great, I am a bit skeptical that they would be the persons posting.

  5. I was thinking the same thing as @geraldckane regarding the time of his Facebook profile. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that his term is almost over. I can’t imagine all of the checks and balances his Facebook page must have to make sure that all of his tweets are appropriate and do not reveal any confidential information. The President really can’t have any of the social media scandals that some of the major brands do, so I’m sure this is a major concern. I wonder how many people actually have access to his account or if he has ever actually tweeted from it himself. All interesting questions that I’m not sure we will ever get the answer to! Politicians on social media is definitely a scary concept though as even one wrong social media post can destroy their reputation and pit thousands against them… Everyone is always waiting for a politician to make a mistake.

  6. rebeccajin06 · ·

    Hi Zach, I also heard about this and shared some of the concerns that you had. When I first saw the news, my reaction was “he didn’t already have one…?” Like you said, I wondered what even took this long to create a FB page for Obama. He has been on Twitter for quite some time now so I practically assumed he was already on Facebook. You also mention a great point about how genuine these social media interactions will actually be. With such a well-known figure on social media, it is really the team that manages the account rather than the figure. I do know, however, that for Hillary Clinton’s page when she is actually posting something rather than someone on the team, it is signed with the notation “-HC”. Perhaps the Obama social media team will employ the same type of strategy to try to make the audience feel more connected. Thanks for sharing your post with us!

  7. What’s interesting is that Obama had a page for that holds the title of politician before he created this new page that holds the title of public figure. The older one does seem recently active too. Maybe the new one will be for only videos as that is the only type of content that has been posted.

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