Does social media move the political needle?

tandino

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2007 was most probably the first prominent use of social media in a federal election campaign.

The ALP used it to great effect, in the middle of the year they launched their YouTube channel with this uplifting number. Though it bypasses the traditional gatekeepers for multimedia messaging at the time, it still could pass as a long television advertisement



The Libs were involved also, in a more awkward way.


(Let's try and not re-run the 2007 Election please)

At the time MySpace (!) were launching a new political initiative best explained in this article and to a lesser extent in this video. Frankly I don't know how successful that initiative was given 2007 was just before they realised the light at the end of the tunnel was the Facebook train coming to mow them all down.

But social media in the political context was framed as a electronic continuation of the town hall debate, and used to increase engagement between political parties and candidates. Discussions that would be facilitated and curated with political parties and groups.

Now the most fervent action in the social media political space is people-to-people, not between people and political parties. Twitter, and the back-and-forward that happens in certain hashtags, and on Facebook which is much the same thing except people feel more than free to put their real name behind the views they hold. It seems to be a lot of passionate agreement between people who hold very similar views, and very passionate, sometimes heated debate between people who hold opposing views. To be politically engaged enough to be active in these forums of debate suggests a person who strongly holds political positions and views that are not for turning.

Be that as it may maybe, does political social media move the needle? Or is it just a bunch of people that will never change their views?
 

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GoldenSky

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Jun 6, 2006
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Depends which social media.

Twitter use, for example, in Australia is very shallow. It is much deeper in the US and the UK and yet, even so, is still heavily skewed towards left-wing metropolitans. Yet, all I see is ABC journos and the like interacting with a few far-left numpties on twitter and acting like they're speaking "with the people". No awareness...
 

Rotayjay

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I think social media takes people away from the news.

The less Australians are actually engaged with the real news (as opposed to fake news and Kim Kardashian's latest eye shadow), the more likely they are to vote for stupid slogans rather than good policy.

I don't think social media shifts the pendulum either way because both the right and left wings have equal prominence on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc.
 

SBD Gonzalez

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Kidding, right?
Depends which social media.

Twitter use, for example, in Australia is very shallow. It is much deeper in the US and the UK and yet, even so, is still heavily skewed towards left-wing metropolitans. Yet, all I see is ABC journos and the like interacting with a few far-left numpties on twitter and acting like they're speaking "with the people". No awareness...
First time I've almost agreed with you.

Disagree it's solely the province of "ABC journos and the like"; it's across the board in my view. But if I see another article on any news site that basically just takes a fistful of twitter posts and republishes them as if that actually constitutes journalism, I'll scream.
 

Pessimistic

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Depends which social media.

Twitter use, for example, in Australia is very shallow. It is much deeper in the US and the UK and yet, even so, is still heavily skewed towards left-wing metropolitans. Yet, all I see is ABC journos and the like interacting with a few far-left numpties on twitter and acting like they're speaking "with the people". No awareness...
If it’s bad, in has to be the left
 

Gough

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Sep 29, 2006
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Social media should be a godsend to politicians as a simple way of keeping in touch with their constituency, today I visited x to meet with y to discuss funding for x type of thing, Malcolm Turnbull was unusual among the Libs in that he did this very well. The down side of this for some politicians is that the two way nature of the beast leaves them exposed and answerable to their constituents in a way that they never have been before and some have dealt with that better than others.
 

Bomberboyokay

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Mostly conservatives think social media is against them because broadly speaking they view it with suspicion and don't utilise it as well as their opponents.
Social media is awful for the Coalition as their PR image (doing it for Straya) is constantly shattered by reality (doing it for rich people and Jesus). They'll look back, if they don't already, on the Howard years as a dream time where 99% of their activities were buried in staid news reports or not reported at all.

If you're a politician or party who is consistent with what you say and do, social media is much better.
 

Patrick Bullet

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Jun 18, 2003
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This is a really interesting (to me at least) and complex topic because social media covers a lot of different ideas and concepts. This ted talk came out recently and it is by an investigative journalist who looked into how Facebook algorithms were gamed by unobservable agents to influence the Brexit and Trump votes. An important difference compared to our elections is that those votes were non compulsory. Still, given some other recent research that suggested baby boomers were 8 or 9 times more likely to share fake news memes on Facebook than younger generations (and I've seen many examples of this personally among my friends' parents) I do worry that it has an important influence over the political conversation at least.

Enjoy the talk:

 

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