There might never have been a better example of the influence of online media than the 2016 US Presidential Election. Facebook live streaming of debates, constant updates from candidates, live blogging feeds and an endless stream of commentary from expert and amateur sources has made this a campaign shaped by popular thought more than any other election in American history. Donald Trump has built a following with the assistance of a barrage of updates on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as his own website.
Some argue this has brought out the ugly side of voters as well, with Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis stating many people have not learned how to use social media sites in a civil manner.
“Instead we use the channel as a way of imposing our perspective and thrust it upon our community in ways that have been incredibly divisive and unproductive” – Brian Solis
The ability to live stream a presidential debate of Facebook is something which has given viewers across the world access to an event which previously was confined to expensive US cable news channels. Now anyone with a Facebook account connected to the internet can watch a stream of the debate from places such as the ABC News.
Social media has also permitted easy sharing of the good and the bad parts of the candidates, although seemingly more bad, with Donald Trump’s lewd quotes from 2005 coming to light, as well as Wikileaks releasing hundreds of emails from Hillary Clinton.
With only weeks until voting begins, it remains to be seen what impact online media will have on the actual outcome. But one thing is for sure – social media will erupt further regardless of the outcome!