09/07/2012 by Cheryl Getuiza
Social media becoming key factor in California politics and beyond
Graphic courtesy of techflexion.com
In a world driven by technology, there’s no denying how big a role social networking sites (SNS) play in our everyday lives.
In fact, social media has earned a prominent seat at the table with other large media companies and has started a new way to cover politics.
As the November elections inch closer, both Presidential candidates, a number of state and local candidates, as well as several advocacy groups are using SNS to try to engage voters.
According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, social networking sites play a modest role in influencing most users’ political views.
“For most of those who use the sites, political material is just a small portion of what they post and what they read. And the impact of their use of the sites is modest, at best,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project.
Users reported using sites like Facebook and Twitter for some of their political activities and the way they decide how to engage with campaigns and issues. At the same time, most users of the sites say they do not use the sites for political purposes or debates.
Here are some key findings:
- 36 percent of social networking site (SNS) users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
- 26 percent of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
- 25 percent of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
- 25 percent of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.
But the survey also states, 84 percent have posted little or nothing related to politics in their recent status updates, comments and links. Another 63 percent said they posted nothing at all and 21 percent said they posted “just a little.”
“Technology is helping more people get involved and engaged in the political process. Anyone who wants to get involved is just a click away, no matter where you are,” said Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward. “The more Californians are engaged, the faster we can fix the state.”
“In fact, governments can and should use technology to make sure that people understand how programs are working and how government can do better,” Mayer said. “Technology not only changes what is possible but increases the public’s expectations. They want to use technology to do business with government. They want to use technology to know what government is doing. And they want to use technology to tell public officials what they think.”
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, independent or other, the web is providing entirely new tools and resources to track and cover politics while also giving some a voice.