A Steinbrenner student holds up a sign at the walkout on Apr. 20. Speakers urged students to register to vote. Photo courtesy of Grace Becker.

Nowadays, it is common for someone to have multiple social media accounts on a variety of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Since their creation, these accounts have allowed others to get a glimpse into the life of the user and for them to post things that are relevant to their personality or to get a like. A rising new trend is to use an account to vocally support a political platform and further the political agendas that concern the individual’s account.

Political disputes are not a new phenomena, however, humanitarian causes that should span political lines but are largely supported by one side seem to be growing daily. Many choose to take to the keyboard as a means to promote these causes and, in turn, the underlying political party that is pushing for the change.

Whether it’s by retweeting an opinionated article, sharing a photo of protesters, or just plainly stating their own political opinion, political discussions are more prevalent than ever before in our society. Social media has facilitated these discussions due to the easy access it provides users and the assurance of a post being seen and acknowledged by a few viewers, at minimum.

Many well-known members of society have also sanctioned this use of social media. In the past celebrities were not noted for their political positions, only for their qualities of fame. Now it is common to see a celebrity take a stance on an issue plaguing culture and to see them gaining acceptance, and followers, for their decisiveness.

Students have even begun to utilize their digital voice in their own effort to make a change. For example, Emma Gonzalez, a student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas has used her Twitter account, @Emma4Change, to bring awareness to issues with the school system concerning safety as well as to issues of gun control and how it pertains to student safety. Among many others, Gonzalez has used her account as a podium to engage in the issues that concern her and take a stand for these issues.

Sometimes the amount of influence social media plays in politics can be negative, especially when the information that is given can be one sided and presented out of context. Sometimes biased news sources choose social media to use their influence and mechanisms to target those with opposing views, devaluing the opinions of others. While this medium of communication can be beneficial it can easily be used incorrectly.

Fake news is another issue that social media platforms have the potential for. Hasty, unconfirmed or completely false news stories written by unverified sources have the ability to reach the masses with just one click of a button. This is a dangerous risk associated with this new technology. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is currently under fire because evidence has surfaced that ad tampering and fake ads could have appeared in user’s feed and therefore influenced the outcome of the 2016 election due to misinformation and manipulating the results.

Regardless, social media has become a staple of our culture and is just as acceptable as television for a reliable source of news, as well as for political debating. Its importance and relevance will only continue to grow in this digital age and as society expands to new incorporate new technologies.

 

 

Lauren Johnston // Backpage Editor

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