February 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #154217
I realize this discussion question could lead to all kinds of other clarifications, but really, interpret it as you want to.
Clearly, social media tools help like minds connect, but does the medium itself have an inherent bias towards a particular political philosophy?
Does social media have a political slant?
February 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm #154229
I think it has a liberal (small l!) slant. Look at the Arab Spring, most of the revolutions have a comparatively liberal agenda to what they had, which was made possible by social media. I don’t think social media has a preference itself, but I think the way it is inherently used makes it liberal. I suppose if the majority of people who use social media enjoy its use, then it is also utilitarian. Some studies say otherwise.
February 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm #154227
I think it certainly lends itself towards impulsive transmissions, by virtue of its instantaneity, and that can play up to strong feelings and expressed opinions. Twitter is certainly the worst offender in this regard, and I find that tweet-length posts often tend to be among the most strident, appealing to the urge for “zingers”.
The brevity of transmissions also tends to elicit, and increase reliance on, what sociolinguist Basil Bernstein refers to as “restricted code” – discourse that relies upon a shared contextual and background knowledge between participants. I suspect it certainly attracts people of like mind who might share common knowledge/experience.
However, the ease with which parallel hubs/channels can be set up also means that people of like mind can sort themselves into communities and sub-communities. So it may seem like one’s social media sites-of-preference have a political slant….but then we may not be aware of other sites/channels that have very different slants. The answer to the question “Does social media site X have a particular political slant?” might therefore be different than the answer to the question “Do social media sites overall have a particular political slant?”.
There is also something to be said for cohort differences in who uses social media how much and for what. Personally, I don’t involve myself in Twitter or Facebook, preferring discussion forums (of course, I also insist that my telephone have a curly cord and handset – soon to be a DSM-IV diagnostic category!). Is that more typical of my age group than those several decades younger? I don’t know, but I suspect it might be. If so, then one might expect any cohort differences in political attitudes to be somewhat associated with social media use, though I imagine the effect would be small.
February 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm #154225
I think it has a small p, political slant. No technology is politically neutral if you dig far enough. From the celebration of social media as an important tool for democracy, (an illusion I suspect), I think that’s part of the unspoken, or sometimes spoken, political underpinning. Maybe it would be helpful to look, not so much as the political slant, but the values that are presupposed by those championing things like social media, engagement, open government.
When I read the many posts on social media on govloop, I see that the assumptions, often reflecting unsaid values) are almost never stated, as illustrated by the lack of clarity of WHY government “should”….
February 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm #154223
Here’s a relevant report from Pew:
In contrast to the 2008 race—in which Democratic voters led the way in their use of online social networks for political purposes—Republican voters and supporters of the “Tea Party” movement caught up with Democrats in their use of social media in 2010.
- The “political social media user” group represented by these 22% of internet users voted for Republican congressional candidates over Democratic candidates by a 45%-41% margin
- Among social networking site users, 40% of Republican voters and 38% of Democratic voters used these sites to get involved politically
- Tea Party supporters were especially likely to friend a candidate or political group on a social networking site during the 2010 election—22% of such users did this, significantly higher than all other groups
February 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm #154221
would OFFER that social media will have the political slant of the majority of “friends” or “circles” or ?????…
February 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm #154219
Social Media has an efficiency slant. And when people take offense, it becomes political. What I observe is that new skills are required to set up social media, which are not the skills of the incumbents. So there is a whole discussion of how long can we keep people who read poorly reading datasets to customers over the phone and writing nonsense letters? What is the economic fairness of extending this practice? When in the future should we start focusing on increasing value to customers?
It’s like the morality of a hammer. Is it a good hammer or a bad hammer? Depends on whether you whup somebody with it or build a house. I say it’s just a tool. Morality or politics is up to the steward of the tool.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.