Facebook and the Election: A Breeding Ground for Political Self Expression

How Facebook’s platform allows users to share their thoughts on the 2016 election.

Donald Trump winning the presidency of the United States sent shockwaves throughout America. Millions of Americans posted, tweeted, pinned, and recorded a massive amount of data. This indicates American society’s penchant for self expression over social media. Thumbs Up!

Facebook was the most noteworthy platform for political discussion. The social media giant’s interface does not restrict post length or content, which allows people greater capacity to gather attention to their posts. Twitter, Pintrest, and Instagram, all have size limits on their posts. Facebook also has a wider age demographic than other social media sites. Over 1.7 billion people are current Facebook users.

This week, the site received incredibly high traffic, with users complaining and criticizing Donald Trump. Many were vocal in their opposition to the electoral college’s layout, and that the popular vote is meaningless in the United States. Facebook allows people to protest on the site by creating “like” pages. These pages can be verified and operated by celebrities or political figures, or can be created by regular users. People used the site as a forum for political discussion and these conversations frequently got heated. There is no agreed upon standard of etiquette on Facebook, often leading to much banter between users. Another contribution to the online conflict: people feel no connection with strangers through Facebook. This in turn creates a social dynamic that can create hostile relationships between people.

Facebook Meme

The websites user friendly interface in pairing with its universality in American society makes Facebook the favorite platform for political discussion amongst people in the 20-55 demographic. This large age range is observed and analyzed to better understand inter-generational political sentiments and to gauge the political climate in America. Fox News, CNN, the BBC, and a multitude of other mass media outlets all quoted Facebook posts when discussing the American election. Psychologically, some people view Facebook as an outlet for their views and opinions on a wide range of subjects, not just the 2016 election. Other people are not as vocal, but their presence on the site still contributes to social analysis of the election.

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Politics and Social Media