In today’s world, social media has become an increasingly significant tool in the political arena. It has had a lot of impact on politics for a while. It has led to a study by different authors examining its effects on politics, which has yielded different perspectives regarding the same topic. This study aims to compare and contrast what the other researchers have said about the issue, identify the research gaps, and offer a critique of these studies.
Comparison of Author Views:
Many authors have delved into the issue, and some have claimed that it positively impacts democracy. Other authors are on the contrary side, saying it adversely affects democracy. A study by Jha & Kodila (2020) showed that Facebook, a social media platform, positively correlated to democracy. On the other hand, another researcher stated that when platforms such as Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook are forms of political communication, they bring problems to politics (Bolter, 2019). The authors state that social media platforms are tools used to spread disinformation, even if they spread truthful information. However, despite the authors providing contrasting views on the social impacts of democracy, a strong stand has never been reached since it is an open debate.
However, many researchers have had the same views, agreeing that social media positively impacts politics or negatively impacts democracy. Some researchers argue that social media significantly increases public participation among the marginalized and youth. These researchers argue that social media provides people with an opportunity for inclusivity, improving engagement in social media platforms. This engagement promotes inclusive democracy. Other researchers believe that social media has minimal impact on politics. They state that traditional media plays a crucial role in shaping people’s political opinions. It is mostly the case in underdeveloped countries where technology has not been so impactful (Jha & Kodila, 2020; Wike et al., 2022).
Criticism of Previous Studies:
Research on the effects of social media has been going on in recent years. However, despite the study, scholars have neglected to examine some potential consequences of social media on democratic systems. Most researchers embark on researching how social media affects political engagement, including political activism, political discussions, and voting behavior. Other subjects that researchers have embarked on include the influence of social media on public opinions, how social media promotes misinformation in the political arena, and how social media affects politics in different demographics (Matthes, 2022; Rainie et al.,2012) ). The research also provides data and statistics on how different age groups, gender, and race have used social media. However, there are other subjects that most researchers still need to embark on.
While the researchers have focused on these topics about social media and politics, some topics have yet to have extensive study. The researchers have yet to study more on some of the roles of social media companies in politics. More research needs to study some moderation policies social media companies adopt and design algorithms that impact politics. Additionally, research has yet to embark on researching the impacts of social media in non-western countries, including political systems, regulations, and cultural norms. Other subjects include the long-term impacts of social media and the intersection of the uses of social media with other identities like gender, race, and sexuality. Overall, these subjects, when researched, will provide a better understanding of how social media impacts politics.
Shedding Light on Model Studies:
Model studies have become increasingly important in social media and politics as they offer a way to test the effects of different variables on political outcomes without relying on real-world data. Researchers have embarked on the use of different models to conduct their research on the topic of social media’s impacts on politics. Using controlled experiments and simulations, researchers can isolate specific factors and determine their impact on political behavior.
The work of Cass Sunstein and his colleagues, who constructed a computer model to evaluate the effects of social media algorithms on political polarization, is one well-known instance of a model study in this area (Sunstein, 2007). Sunstein and his team discovered that even minor biases in social media companies’ algorithms have the potential to cause significant division over time. This study clarifies the role that algorithms play in influencing political discourse and emphasizes the significance of taking social media platform design into account when examining the effects of social media on politics.
Some of the mainly used models of study include; diffusion innovation theory and the echo-chambers model. The diffusion innovation model, which describes how innovations and new ideas spread throughout society, has been used to examine political communication and disseminate political information on social media (Md Nordin et al., 2021). Researchers have used this model to investigate how social media affects political participation, voting patterns, and disseminating of accurate and false political information.
Another model is the echo chambers model. This approach explains the phenomena where people are only exposed to political information and viewpoints that agree with them, reinforcing their ideas and fostering homogeneous online groups (`Cinelli, 2021). Using this model, researchers have examined the effects of echo chambers on political polarization, the spread of false information, and the impact of social media on public opinion. Overall, these models assist scholars in comprehending the role of social media on political activity, public opinion, and the distribution of accurate and false information. They offer insightful analyses of the complicated interaction between social media and politics. More study is required to hone these models further and develop a thorough grasp of how social media affects politics.
Although social media and politics are receiving more attention, there still needs to be more research. There are few long-term studies, for instance, that look at how social media affects political opinions and actions over time. There is also a need to investigate how social media affects political division and false information. By studying social media’s role in political discourse and its possible effects on democratic processes, our study seeks to add to the existing work on the subject. Our research will build on earlier findings by examining how social media use affects political polarization and the propagation of false information.
In conclusion, social media has grown to be an important tool in politics, and many studies have been done on how it affects democracy. While some authors contend that it benefits democracy, others contend it has detrimental effects. Even though there has been much research, some possible effects of social media on democratic institutions and other issues, such as the function of social media companies, effects in non-western nations, and long-term effects, have not received enough attention. Model studies, such as those using the diffusion innovation theory and the echo chambers model, have become crucial to understanding how social media affects politics. These models comprehensively analyze the complex relationship between social media and politics. They have aided in understanding social media’s impact on political engagement, public opinion, and knowledge diffusion among scholars. The study emphasizes the need for more studies on these issues to help explain how social media affects politics.
Bolter, J. D. (2019). Social media are ruining political discourse. The endless flow of content does not need to make sense to create engagement.’—the Atlantic.
Cinelli, M., De Francisci Morales, G., Galeazzi, A., Quattrociocchi, W. and Starnini, M., 2021. The echo chamber effect on social media. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(9), p.e2023301118.
Jha, C.K. and Kodila-Tedika, O., 2020. Does social media promote democracy? Some empirical evidence. Journal of Policy Modeling, 42(2), pp.271-290.
Matthes, J., (2022). Social Media and the Political Engagement of Young Adults: Between Mobilization and Distraction. Online Media and Global Communication, 1(1), pp.6-22.
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Sunstein, C.R., 1999. The law of group polarization. University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper, (91).
Rainie, L., Smith, A., Schlozman, K.L., Brady, H. and Verba, S., 2012. Social media and political engagement. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 19(1), pp.2-13.
Wike, R., Silver, L., Fetterolf, J., Huang, C., Austin, S., Clancy, L. and Gubbala, S., 2022. Social Media Seen as Mostly Good for Democracy Across Many Nations, But US is a Major Outlier.