With President Donald Trump’s frequent use of Twitter to make announcements and interact with public figures, many question the impact of his tweets on the political climate of today. Tweets are immediate, and by posting several a day, President Trump moves from one incident to another relatively quickly. They also give him a way to be ahead of news outlets that he has condemned and to outrun fact-checkers that might filter what he really said. Trump’s presidency has certainly brought about a new era of how politicians interact with not only each other, but also the public through social media.
Social media has changed politics, especially in recent years. Platforms like Twitter let politicians directly connect with voters and tailor their messages for specific audiences, from the older demographic of Facebook to the young people of Twitter. It also can be a tool used in campaigning for office. Posts, which often go viral, are spread far and wide via the Internet. Another way politicians use social media is to weigh public opinion on a variety of subjects, from their policies to their personality and how people feel about them. All of these facets appeal to politicians because they give them different techniques of interacting with the public and how receptive the public is to their ideas.
Written by Dr. Kirsten Johnson and Dr. Kyle Kopko
Social media is a part of [politicians’] personas now, and there is always a ramification when they post online,” Elizabethtown College Professor of Communications Dr. Kirsten Johnson said. She stated that a major benefit of politicians’ use of social media is that it makes things more transparent because it is immediate and often not thought out.
She also said that using social media can engage those who do not interact with the news and can appeal to a different audience. On the other hand, Johnson explained that it is difficult to capture full thoughts with a limited amount of characters; Twitter only allows 280 characters per tweet. It then becomes easier for people to misinterpret the message, and the message may require another series of explanations, especially with more complex thoughts.
When it came to Trump’s tweets, Johnson stated that he has been very transparent, but often posts without thinking them out, which has created a “bullying culture of name calling.” She then said that he ultimately uses Twitter to bypass the media and leave his thoughts and proposals unfiltered and directly from him.
Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement Dr. Kyle Kopko shared similar thoughts. He said that social media allows politicians to communicate directly with the public, but it also makes discussing complex issues difficult, especially in the instance of Twitter’s character limit.
“President Trump’s use of social media has changed the presidency,” Kopko declared, especially since President Trump’s tweets attract a lot of publicity for his administration. He also said that Twitter gives President Trump the opportunity to directly address the public without issuing a press statement or giving a speech.
Outside of President Trump, both professors stated that politicians will continue to use social media for the foreseeable future, especially with the ever-developing platforms.