Technologies Role in the Presidential Election

As we move closer to November 6th, we are hearing more and more about the stances of both President Obama and Governor Romney. The biggest changes in elections of our times and those of times past are how technology shapes an election. At one point, people would turn on the nightly news to get an hour or so of information about what was going on. There was no internet to research what politicians were saying, computers weren’t even in existence for a majority of our elections. So what has technology done to change how we elect our next commander in chief?
Social Media
The first, and most obvious, push in the electoral cycle has been the use of Twitter and Facebook to get a message to the people at an alarming rate. Obama made this a keystone of his 2008 bid for the highest position in the country and it paid off in a huge way. Facebook also encourages followers to share their side of the political spectrum, and get involved in discussions. The issues with using Facebook are the factual integrity of the information posted. While staunch liberals and conservatives will find memes (internet images that become hugely popular) to push their agenda and confirm their preconceived notions, it is rare that real and important debates ever happen. Instead, most Facebook posts stick with friends arguing from their side of the isle without actually looking up facts to support the claims of politians which they quote.
Fact Checking
On the other hand, technology, especially the internet, has given us the ability to quickly and accurately fact check things that the two candidates say. While it would be unfair to call both of the men running for the presidency liars, it would also be unfair to say they were always honest. As debates happen, things will be said off the cuff to win an argument. With sites like Politifact and other fact checking, bi-partisan sites, we are able to quickly look at the truth behind a statement. More often than not, the statement is mostly true, or mostly false, and the specifics can be explained through research.
Google also sees a huge increase in traffic during debates as users quickly look up statements and words used during the arguments. The problem with how quickly information spreads through the internet is that it stands to make elections more hateful than ever. Not because the opponents are creating more inflammatory ads against their opponents, but because of how frequently the people supporting their cause throw together films, images, songs and letters that completely destroy the character of the person they do not support. When you boil down the two men to their base character there is very little different. They both have similar ideas with only a few defining factors. The internet can be a powerful and destructive tool for elections, but it can also be a way for you to make an informed choice based on facts instead of hopes.

Terry F. is a writer for If you are interested in a career in politics, consider earning a degree online!



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