Twitter in Political Communication

Introduction

Mass media has significantly changed over the past two decades. The development of information technology and Internet resulted in appearing of online news services and social networks with user-generated blogs related to political news. Many people use such sources as Twitter and Facebook to get information on political issues and election. In their book, Parmelee and Bichard state that some politicians tend to use Twitter to communicate with their electors and write messages that sometimes are meant to influence policy (2011). Despite the opinion that such online sources as Twitter might be used to spread unreliable information, it is possible to say that it is a good source of political information because it presents an opinion on news and political events at first hand.

Description of the Assigned Position

In the modern world, internet sources are believed to compete with such traditional sources of information as newspapers and TV news. At present, most of the people with higher education who are interested in political events and issues prefer to use online sources as they are easy to access from tablets and mobile devices. It is generally recognized that many Americans prefer the internet as the main source of election news. The development of Wi-Fi free hotspots made it possible to access favorite online sources almost anywhere, which is very convenient for internet users. Therefore, the popularity of online newspapers and news blogs written by independent journalists in social media, as well as Twitter accounts of politicians has increased rapidly over the past decades.

Twitter was developed in 2006 as a microblogging service. It allows users to exchange short messages using their mobile phones to share the events that are happening at the moment. There is no need to write long stories in Twitter. It is a convenient service for those who lack time but want know the current news. It might be the main reason for choosing Twitter by many politicians as a medium to communicate with their electors.

Primarily, this decision was based on the principles of democracy to let people feel closer to the government. Tweets from the politicians are believed to help electors to have insight into the world of politics and get news from an insider, which makes this information more valuable. Politicians also have an opportunity to influence minds of their followers and create the atmosphere of trust to raise their ratings. Politicians usually make their tweets open and use photos and links to other sites such as petitions and official government websites that provide more information about new laws and events. Twitter is regarded to be useful during the election campaign to make a decision. It also helps to gather feedback from the electors.

Arguments to Support the Position

The last election campaign in the United States proved that the number of Americans who searched the news related to the election on the internet increased greatly since the previous election race. It might be caused by the increasing number of people who have the internet access nowadays. Some researchers note that “within the broadband population, the internet is by far the second-most important source of campaign news, behind only television and well ahead of newspapers, radio and magazines” (Smith, 2009, par. 9). Most of the internet users prefer online versions of newspapers and magazines. They also watch newscasts using their mobile devices or computers and utilize social networks to reach like-minded people and even their favorite politicians who tend to use social media as well. Thus, it is possible to say that traditional media sources have to adapt to requirements of their consumers, which makes social media almost equal actor among possible sources of information.

The development of social networks resulted in the appearance of official pages of popular newspapers and news channels on Facebook and Twitter. It made possible for ordinary people to share news from their regions that might appear on TV and in a newspaper if they are important enough. It is stated that social media is found very helpful during disease outbreaks as people share recent information that can help them to avoid the disease. During rebellions, social media might be used to get information about places of riots. It is also stated that in unordinary situations even traditional media uses information from eyewitnesses to make breaking news (Westerman, Spence, & Van Der Heide, 2014). Therefore, such sources as Twitter may be very helpful in some situations to get information, which is required to keep one safe. Social media also helps electors to make their decision during the election campaign if they follow the information posted by politicians.

It is a widespread opinion that social media greatly assists in gathering people with similar interests to discuss and share political news and issues. There is a big amount of blogs and pages with political content written by internet users. Main social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are regarded as the primary source of political news by many individuals. They create specific communities and groups related to their political ideology to share and discuss news there. Some researchers emphasize that “while nearly all users get a mix of views, those with stronger ideological tendencies are more likely to surround themselves with like-minded opinions” (Mitchell, Gottfried, Kiley, & Matsa, 2014, par. 7). The news presented on social media sites are usually reputed to reflect most popular opinions of ordinary people on the discussed problem. Such social media as Twitter allows users not only share and discuss news but also follow their favorite politicians and members of their team who post tweets on current events. Thus, it gives people the opportunity to get some information at first hand, which makes Twitter very popular as a source of political news.

Standpoint of Opposition

Social media can be used both for good and harmful deeds. There are plenty of fake accounts that are told to belong to famous people and politicians. Some users create groups that support terrorists and illegal organizations. They might also spread fake news and unreliable information to influence the minds of people. It is a general opinion that social media is the main tool in changing of the political regime in a country. In uncertain situations related to danger such as riots or epidemic, people might confuse gossips with news and share it as some reliable information. The credibility of news is very important in such situations. People should learn to distinguish fake news in the information flow that passes through the social media and report them. Therefore, according to the opinion of some people, social media cannot substitute mass media.

Conclusion

It is possible to say that Twitter gives a priceless opportunity to get news from political insiders and eyewitnesses, which makes information more valuable. It helps people to follow the events in a more convenient way. The supporters of the opposite opinion argue that social media is convenient to coordinate actions during riots and protests, which is proved by current practice in some countries. Thus, it can bring both harm and good and should be used carefully. The position that Twitter is a good source of information is stronger because it tends to present an opinion on news and events at first hand. Moreover, the government is trying to control social media to make it a more reliable source of information.

References

Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Kiley, J., & Matsa K. E. (2014). Social media, political news and ideology. Web.

Parmelee, J. H., & Bichard, S. L. (2011). Politics and the Twitter revolution: How tweets influence the relationship between political leaders and the public. Lexington Books.

Smith, A. (2009). The Internet as a source of political news and information. Web.

Westerman, D., Spence, P. R., & Van Der Heide, B. (2014). Social media as information source: Recency of updates and credibility of information. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 19(2), 171-183. Web.