How Technology Steered The Course Of The 2016 US Presidential Election

By Adie Pie , Nov 09, 2016 04:18 AM EST
At this day and age, opinions and news - whether legitimate or not - spread faster than wildfire. And when something as important as the US elections are the subject, nothing is left unturned. (Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

For better or for worse, everyone and anyone can state their opinion for the whole world to see. For whatever reason and for whatever propaganda, a person's voice is only silent when they want it to be. On the other hand, a 140-character statement or a two minute video can go viral in hours, and with it comes a certain amount of power and influence - especially with the ongoing 2016 US Presidential Elections.

Technology plays an immense role in the lives of a great majority of people. Anyone with an internet connection can see and read about various amounts of topics. But with the next US president almost within reach, there is almost nothing else escaping the click of an everyday person's keyboard.

A varied group of individuals have put their opinion out regarding the current state of the US for the entire world to see - everyday people, celebrities, professionals and politicians. And because social media always within reach, it has become one of the most influential means to change minds and touch hearts. The 2016 Presidential Elections are the perfect example of this.

According to Fortune, a study by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank in DC, suggests that an individual's access to various opinions actually opens his or her eyes to various political issues. So instead of steering one person a certain way, it actually forces them to think for themselves instead. Depending on how one looks at it, the date proves as much.

Pew Research notes that 20 percent of those surveyed adjusted their stands based on something they saw on social media. Likewise, 17 percent admitted that their opinions on a specific candidate were altered as well. Interestingly enough, Democrats were more likely to alter their initial beliefs than Republicans.

However, individuals of both parties admitted that the changes they experienced were mostly negative. "I thought Donald Trump was leaning one way on an issue and a friend posted something that was opposite of what I believe," one participant said. "This caused me to think less of him than I once I did." Original Trump supporters were five times more likely to change their views to a negative one, as opposed to Hillary Clinton's supporters who were three times more likely to view her negatively.

The root of these changes are the developments made and experienced by various social media platforms. NPR notes that Twitter in particular has evolved dramatically from its initial 140-character declarations. Bridget Coyne, one of the company's senior managers, points out that the platform is now capable of polls, photos and videos. "We've evolved into a website and many other platforms from that," she said.

Whether or not it is for better, platforms such as Twitter have made it very easy to pick fights between individuals - strangers or friends or friends-turned-strangers. What makes it even more interesting, however, is that the candidates themselves have been trolling each other. Both Clinton and Trump have used social media as a way to throw shade on one another over and over again. And the world has been watching, fingers itching to send out an opinion.

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