Twitter & Politics

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By now, it has become evident that Twitter and Politics go hand in hand. Wait a sec, Twitter goes hand in hand with a lot of things; technology, news (fake or legit), ongoing real life events etc. – politics is just one piece of the puzzle.

These days Twitter is battling a lot of skepticism, but there is one thing that even the most vile critics refrain from biting too hard into: the strong link between Twitter and politics. Why? Because in that realm no other social network has even a pale shadow of Twitter’s supremacy.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not a diehard Twitter fan, but I am trying to look at the picture from bird’s eye view. I’ve had my share of trolls, nasty buggers and death threats from 16-year-olds who have nothing better to do from the comfort of their dear mom’s basement.  but I am still in favor of letting Twitter do its thing. Here’s why this amazing social media platform is still the voice of reason from many political aspects.

Twitter’s Political Rise

Between 2007 and 2012, Twitter has seen a massive escalation in both active user population and overall number of tweets, a curiously large proportion of which was on political issues. Some argue that it was the Obama administration created the “ripple” effect during the initial election campaign. The world never expected a 140 character microblogging service to play a role in reshaping lives, media events and politics, but it sure did in 2007 when Barack Obama, a presidential candidate at the time, tweeted: Thinking we’re only one signature away from ending the war in Iraq. It is a different (and a highly controversial) question how the actual events played out eventually: what’s important is that at that moment Twitter began its rise to the role of a flagship social media tool for politicians of all countries and calibers.

Whenever a political tweet made an impact, it became viral, and there were a lot of such tweets. No need to dig too deep: look at the recent aggressive exchange of wise-crack comments between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Do you notice the staggering number of shares and likes on those? Some people argue Twitter is not a suitable ground to exchange views on current affairs, but if Twitter disappeared we all would sure lose a tasty weapon of political debate.

Twitter is Still Original

Twitter was the earliest trend setter in microblogging sphere. The signature 140 character limit (*extended now under certain rules) leaves no room for ruminations. You either get to the point instantly, or you aren’t going to post. The beauty of it is that it becomes crystal clear within a second or two what kind of thinker you are. It is like one of those real time small talks; past the casual Hello’s and Hi’s, you go straight to the crux. And what helps you tremendously is the hashtags.

Politicians were made aware of keynote issues as a result of viral tweets with hashtags embedded in them. However, a lot of people abused the system to spread hatred, fake news, and such atrocities. I, for one, do blame Twitter in failing to keep the trolls in check, because it is one of the main reasons for driving away loyal users.

Precisely speaking, during the last few months, Twitter literally reflected Newton’s third law. For every single tweet, there was a rhetorical comeback either in a dumbest possible way or something truly inspirational. Trump’s tweets were mostly aggressive, and as much as people negatively portrayed his actions, the viral factor was still there. People must love the grotesque, after all.

Wait, there is Facebook for Politics too

Yes, Facebook is great but it is not meant for microblogging, pep talk or direct user engagement. Over the last couple of years, Facebook made a lot of changes to introduce new features, but some of them don’t offer what Twitter is offering. In some ways, Facebook’s reputation surpasses Twitter’s, and that’s good because we could use a little of both flavors.

However, the idea of logging on to Facebook, navigating through newsfeed or typing down your thoughts in the Status message section just isn’t too appealing. At times, when you have gone beyond the Facebook default, character limit, the additional text is covered via “See More” option, do you honestly think you have the time to read through all that drama?

The herd mentality at Twitter is more Impactful

According to Nielsen and Pew reports, Twitter is the preferred medium for user engagement especially when a real life historic event is going on. As a matter of fact, the White House itself witnessed the “political Twitter” trend precisely when Trump was taking oath, and earlier when Obama presidential press conferences were in motion.

Most of the influential people in D.C. are well connected with one another through Twitter. Therefore, when someone sets things, or rather a tweet in motion, everyone follows up with their “valued” input. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it an echo chamber, except for the fact that this one is electronic and even the media gets its news sources from it sometimes.

To say the least, it was under strict anonymity policy, when a staffer from Mitt Romney’s campaign said that he is perfectly content with citing news from Twitter and preselling the package to The Corner or National Review for some financial endorsement of course…

Imagine that some sort of useful information leaked to someone influential at social media, what would be the repercussions? It doesn’t matter if the news is legit or fake, just look at it from an unbiased perspective because many people think that Twitter is flaming hatred and the negativity culture. No, it is not Twitter’s fault, it is the result of actions taken by keyboard warriors from all over the world, and the reason why they turn to Twitter is because the network is oh so propitious for this kind of fight.

Twitter in Other Countries’ Politics

It is not just the U.S. that uses Twitter for political agendas. According to Evo Morales, former President of Bolivia, the United States deployed over 10 social media activists/experts who played a vital role in usurping the Bolivian electoral campaign. Morales couldn’t win, and was replaced eventually because of some sort of “conspiracy” at Twitter.

In a press conference, Evo Morales said, We were defeated by social media. The United States sent 12 Twitter experts to defeat us. Morales’ statements is sure broad, but he did have a point. Twitter was used to some extent during the Bolivian elections; it caused vote casters to change their mind. Such kind of revolutionary change takes month to come into effect, but with Twitter, it all happened in few weeks’ time.

It is speculated that by the time a voter is close to a ballot box, he or she will have already made up his/her mind in favor or against the said candidates in future elections. Though, it is a premature argument because a lot can go on between today and 2020, let’s keep a close eye on social media, technology and Twitter as a politician’s plan B. We may be in for a surprise or two.