Yet again, I find myself writing about the intersection of politics and social media, but the two are unavoidable! No matter who you follow on Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, we’re somewhat inundated with opinions from thought leaders, friends, and sometimes, total strangers. I mentioned before that in a previous life, I worked in Politics – on the press side to boot! And apropos of last week’s class, this subject seemed like it was worthy of rehashing.
With that said, Nanette Byrnes wrote a pretty compelling piece in MIT’s technology review last week, directly confronting the pros and cons with using Twitter as a platform for a debate preview. She noted that using the platform as a place to watch the event made it more “divisive” and “confusing.” The takeaway was, essentially, that it was information overload, and her attention was taken away from the discourse and directed to her feed.
This sentiment seemed to be a common theme amongst many viewers. In a piece posted on CNET by Alfred Ng, Omar Akhtar of Altimeter stated that, “Facebook is more akin to being [in] a living room where you have your friends and you have your relatives, it’s personal…. Twitter is like the town square. Everyone is loudly proclaiming their opinions, it’s out to the public.”
But despite the inevitable distractions which so many platforms provide, you can’t disagree with the fact that opening the option to view the debate on such a widely used tool promotes (best case scenario) a better informed public. Additionally, it’s good for Twitter’s current position as they’re looking to reengage their users and differentiate their offerings. To that end, it’s very clear that Twitter is doing it’s best to stay relevant. Ng writes, “While their approaches may differ, both social networks are using live video to hook users and gain relevancy during marquee moments. Twitter has been packing on shows for its growing network of live streams, including games from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and theNational Football League.”
Interestingly, according to Melissa Cruze at Bustle.com, Clinton gained over 51k followers to Trump’s 28.5k. This metric is evidently also concurrent with polling, done by Public Policy Polling, whereby Clinton won the debate 51-40.
As for me, I think there is a clear line between entertainment and serious business. And with the current state of this election, I think when we have the chance to see these two (very unpopular) candidates together, we should minimize the amount of background noise to focus on the bigger picture.