Social media in American politics : is that the best place to do election campaign ?
Social networks are taking a huge place in our daily life. More than 3,8 billions people use social media for an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes daily. Communication changes and makes that these media influence public opinion. Donald Trump distinguishes himself in the virtual campaign. From his candidacy for the 2016 elections, he understood the importance of being present on these media, which is today one of his pillars in the campaign.
This model, also used by Obama during these 2 presidential campaigns, enables candidates to be closer to the people. Candidates can share their daily life, informations about their campaign. It also gives the possibility to react more quickly to current affairs. But not all voters are on these media. They can’t reach everyone. That’s why they continue to have televised debates and interviews, even though they have been held back by COVID-19.
Moreover, they can make targeted political advertising. After the Cambridge Analytica Scandal following the 2016 election, the giants Facebook and Twitter have taken action. Indeed, using data to tip the scales in Trump’s favor has not been well received. This is why Twitter has refused all political advertising, unlike Facebook which has made a more ambiguous decision. We can clearly see that there is a financial motivation.
In addition, because of the health situation, social networks fear an increase of fake news and disinformation. They don’t want the Cambridge Analytica scandal to happen again. They have put in place measures to fight against disinformation and threats of foreign interference.
These platforms, however, do not always seem impartial. Some algorithms, such as TikTok’s, can highlight supporters of a candidate explaining why they should not vote for his competitor. Recently, Trump’s party, the Republicans, has accused Facebook and Twitter of censoring information about the investigation into Joe Biden’s son’s ties with the Ukraine. This is not the first time that the current president has denounced this kind of censorship, since he has seen himself censored two of these tweets for disseminating fake news. This censoring then raises the problem of freedom of expression of the candidates.
It is clear that the presidential election, due to the current situation, is taking place a lot on social media. Despite its many advantages, it also appears that the giants are using political campaigns to establish their power and their opinion. It is a necessary ground in the presidential race that must be coupled with more traditional and less complex strategies.