Social Media and Democracy

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Politics

Document 1

Despite the role social media play in generating a democratic engagement, some researchers contend that the utilization of social media has proven problematic to nourish political awareness online in the end and shift the electronic commitment into governance (Habermas 411). Confronted with polarized political atmosphere, several Americans have been boycotting civic involvement which was so copious in the 2008 presidential voting series. Thus, the relationship between social media and democracy is a duo concept without one broad conclusion about the nature of such association. In such perception, it is the purpose of this research to provide a well-supported explanation on the ways social media contributes to the American democracy by improving voters’ enlightened understanding of the common good. Social media enhances free speech which is an essential aspect of democracy.

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Without external sources of information, citizens will not question the propaganda of the government which reduces the likelihood that people will advocate for the civil liberties and democracies. However, Social media enhances the free flow of information that increases the social consciousness and promotes democracy. Furthermore, when governments block some websites and make vivid application of firewalls to censor contents shared, uploading images and videos to social media platforms allows information to disseminate within the nation (Page, Benjamin and Robert 13). Besides, by coordinating, creating and sustaining Hashtag movements, individuals from all corners of the globe are engaged in critical political conversations. A Hashtag can mobilize and inform a large populace (Madden, M. For instance, individuals can see the number of likes a political page has on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter.

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Barrack Obama used several social media accounts during his 2012 campaigns and continued to use throughout his presidency (Barber 34). The team of individuals helped him to post, share updates and accomplishments on particular topics. As an outcome, Obama developed more connection with the voters because he gave them another way to see his previous achievements and pitfalls no matter where he was situated at that time (Barber 32). Posting their accomplishments online, politicians become more transparent hence increasing their accountability and influencing the voters. To illustrate, Lipschultz in the study exploring the position of social media in the 2012 American presidential elections concluded that the Republican primary candidates relied heavily on the social media outlets to pass their messages and empower voters (Lipschultz 54). Therefore, social media outlets present a platform for the candidates to increase their audience and seek support.

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Social media increases political participation. Studies indicate that exposure to information, even to the individuals who are not seeking it, increase the political involvement. Similarly, the survey conducted in Italy, Britain, and Germany indicates that during the 2014 European Parliament elections voters who were less interested in the politics and news became more politically engaged online as an outcome of accessing political information and news on social media websites (Lipschultz 67). Increasing communication and information between politicians and their constituent contributes to a transparent system and healthier democracy. Furthermore, social media allow political dissidents to organize, communicate and grow grassroots movements. The ability to form mass numbers is a significant requirement for the successful campaigns pushing for democratic reforms (Shirky 39). These media outlets present a platform for assessing the thoughts of the like-minded individuals and advocate for the areas that the governments oppress some groups.

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As an outcome, the government will be informed about the issues affecting the minority groups. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter enhance the right to free speech by presenting a breeding ground for the citizens to push for the messages disregarded by the mainstream media. Also, social media improves right to free speech by allowing the marginalized voices to be heard by the administration and other citizens. Furthermore, these media outlets promote the flow of information within and outside the nation hence making sure that governments are accountable whenever they breach the principles of democracy. Besides, the use of social media has enhanced the voter awareness by allowing the voters to track the following of leaders and other political candidates before, during and after elections.

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