Sunday, December 2, 2012

Social media and citizen participation

In recent year, social media has had a decisive effect on citizen participation in politics. For example, the 2012 presidential election showed how social media motivate people to take part in political activities including campaigns. Social media was a platform for delivering information, exchanging opinions, and forming voluntary groups for campaigns. Thus, the media helped voters become more interested in the election and participate in campaigns actively. That is a positive effect of social media on the citizen participation.

However, social media might also have a negative effect on political participation for two main reasons. First, some voters were seduced by candidates’ image made by pictures of their private life. In order to create an energetic or cozy image, candidates uploaded many pictures on social media such as “Facebook” and “Flickr”. And some voters who were impressed might vote for a candidate having a better image, regardless of the contents of their election pledge. Second, some voters might misunderstand a private opinion posted on social media as public opinion. They were affected by postings which they saw, not most messages on social media, because they had a very limited time to check social media. Thus, there was a possibility that some voters made bad decisions due to limited information.

Nevertheless, taking all things into consideration, the positive effects far outweigh the negative effects. So, users just need to realize the limit of social media when they consider it as a tool for making a decision.

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