Acta Universitatis Danubius. Relationes Internationales, Vol 11, No 1 (2018)

Social Media and Electioneering: The Case of the United States 2016 Presidential Election

Marylin Chijioke Ekwueme, Sheriff Folarin

Abstract


The 21st century has witnessed diverse technological advancement, part of which is the introduction of social media, which has permeated almost all areas of human endeavour, including politics. The 2016 American presidential elections in particular have become one of the most divisive trajectories because the social media became, in the hands of the two main candidates, Hillary and Trump, an effective tool of spreading hate, mischief and misinformation.  Generally, politicians have swerved from the use of traditional media (broadcast and print) to the use of social media to carry out their political ambition. This paper examines the role of social media in the awareness, participation, and mobilizing electorates during the 2016 presidential election. The method of analysis is descriptive and the data are drawn from secondary literature. One of the major challenges of electioneering in the 21st century is that, due to the faceless nature of the internet, social media spreads propaganda, false information, and hate speeches that could defame the image of an electoral candidate.. Findings show that the social media played a major role in mobilizing people, creating awareness, as well as participation and circulation of information about candidates. It therefore recommends, that regulatory methods on what should and should not be posted on social media should be put in place by the governing bodies of various social media platforms. This way, campaigns that use and encourage hate speeches or instill violence will not be posted or published. 


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