The Political Side of Twitter

As I am writing this article, a major event in Spanish politics is taking place. The leader of the center-left party of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, is quitting after the biggest party division in its more than 100 years of history. I don’t want to start talking about politics (I know that if I do you will stop reading), but the only thing that I need to say is that, after nearly a year without an elected government, this is a major breaking point.

I am sitting in the library looking at my computer, and I have four pages opened: the news paper “El País”, the newspaper “Publico”, Youtube and Twitter.

I saw the resignation press conference in Youtube by accident, and, even if it was something possible, it got me by complete surprise. Instinctively I opened the El País, to know what was happening. Suddenly multiple opinion articles starting to appear as I refreshed the page over and over. But as the dismission speech continued I realized that the opinions were, even more than usual, one sighted and absolutely in favor of the resignation.

I knew this news paper was a huge critic of Sanchez but I still expected more than “¡well done!”, “¡the party is saved!” and many other subliminal messages that the articles were bombing all over the Internet. I was resigned over the politicization and the little impartiality that this newspaper, the biggest of the country, has.

Resigned, I opened a third tab, and I opened Público, to see in this case they would respect a bit more the journalistic integrity. But what was to my surprise, or not so much, that this newspaper saw the world in a complete different way. The resignation was a disaster, the end – it was the culmination of this crisis in something horrible, the end of the party.

And there I was, completely angry and confused seeing only news that said completely different opinions. There was no debate, there was nothing but a institutionalized opinion of each of the two companies – I mean, newspapers.

At this point I had no idea of what to do: go to another newspaper to see another narrow point of view, or just pursue my initial simple intention of finding out why is this happening and how do the people take this news.

I have never used Twitter before this class –  I actually still don’t use it to be honest. I have had a dead Twitter account since 2010, I think, and I have wrote 2 tweets. But, for some reason, after getting used to publish the four tweets of the weak, I decided that instead of writing #IS6621 I was going to write the name of the former leader of the PSOE, #PedroSanchez.

Oh my god! It was marvelous, really marvelous. Hundreds of tweets had already went online, so many opinions, positions. You could find articles that the people found interesting, the usual trolling comedy of the internet, the declarations of every important political figure, etc, etc etc.

A beautiful example of how people see how was the behavior of the party leaders:

In a few minutes I managed to create a more or less more diverse opinion on what was happening. Maybe the information wasn’t the most reliable source, it weren’t academic opinions, most of them, but there was something that it was latent. It was absolutely diverse, with critics and supporters, opinions of the left and the right wing and the center.It was easy to find from the initial #PedroSanchez the different hashtags that the people of different ideologies were using.

At the end even if the information given was not very extensive, even if the most of the tweets were written by people who had very little knowledge about politics, at the end the total amount information that I received was in many ways more useful than the one that I found on the newspaper. You could see how the people felt about this event, what where the real popular opinions, even in the comical tweets you could easily infer the opinion that the author had about it.

This got me thinking about all the things we discussed the other day: the filter bubble theory and the personalization of the internet. I am not trying to deny this affirmation but maybe, the information source that we have outside the social media feed it is not that great either. It may not be personalized, but it is definitely biased.

Social media has been able to mobilize a huge amount of people into being interested about politics, and participating one way or another in the political arena. It might be true that they are more radicalized but it is still being more effective, and in many ways is, in my opinion, much better that the political feed that the traditional communication.

Despite the problems of personalization, nowadays social media is becoming a MORE viable platform for news reporting and political activities. As PewResearchCenterPewResearchCenter indicates than nearly 50% of the people that use Facebook in the US get a sustained news feed from its use. That is just Facebook,  2/3  of Reddit users have a feed based on news. However, the use of this site is much smaller.  We need to change social media, but I still believe on his superpower: the ability of letting anyone communicate with the world in a two way conversation. This, applied to politics, is a powerful thing.

2_Social-media-as-a-pathway-to-news.png

To conclude, after two hours of reading articles and tweets, apparently we are still with no clear future government, but at least it inspired me to write an article.

 

 

 

 

4 comments

  1. vicmoriartybc · ·

    First of all, thank you for writing something about politics that has nothing to do with the American presidential election – it’s all we’ve been reading for so long, so I love hearing about politics in different countries! I can definitely relate to this post, because as I mentioned in my first blogpost, Twitter is usually my first source for news. Like you said, it allows you to see thousands of different viewpoints on politics and news just by scrolling through a hashtag. I honestly prefer this to reading a usually biased article from a legitimate journalistic source. It can be fascinating to see one point of view expressed in a tweet, and then the exact opposite point of view in the next one. Nowhere else on the Internet will you see such an easy way to read multiple opinions at once. However, there is also a dark side to this, as political feuding between strangers can run rampant on Twitter.

  2. Nice post. I do find Twitter to be a very valuable source of information (from the right accounts). It enables everyone to get their own perspective across and does cut down on the filter bubble (a bit) depending on who you read. But certainly the hashtags for our recent debates is a great way to get both sides on the same event.

  3. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Great article on politics without actually being ABOUT politics. I loved the pictures and statistics you included. I agree that the US, and sounds like Spain also, has very polarized news outlets. Your comment about companies versus newspapers is spot on. Newspapers are catering either to pleasing readers or promoting their own agenda, not providing the public with objective news.

    Do you think that crowd sourcing news from Twitter is similar to the original Wikipedia? Seems to me like gathering news from Twitter gives you the gist of the situation but you need to take it with a grain of salt. In the past, that was how I leveraged Twitter, to better understand something but not to get into the specific detail.

  4. evanryou · ·

    This was a very well written article that provided many great examples and statistics. I think you highlighted a process that has been going on for many years now, the movement from traditional forms of news into social media news coverage. This trend has been progressively picking up traction, as more and more of the older generation gets on social media. The benefit to social media news is the audience it garners compared to traditional news outlets. More people now know about the news because of social media when they would have never watched or read an article about the news. However, the negative is that you get a slew of information that could be very biased or incorrect. This is not to say that the old news sources were not biased, but the risk of the internet is that people speculate and sources will generate topics without much backing (to get views). The future of news is going to be through social media, the question is just whether or not the quality of the news is going to improve. From search algorithms changing without our permission to biased coverage of news, there’s a lot that needs to be done in the future.

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