Social media becoming more important in politics

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The role of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook in US politics is growing. These networks play an important part in energising activists and informing users, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project survey.

The survey revealed that 36 per cent of social media users consider these networks as vital tools for keeping them updated with political news. Aside from that, about 25 per cent of the respondents said these sites are important as they allow users to reach out to other people, making them more involved in political issues that affect their lives.

Moreover, one out of four social media users said they had become more active in expressing their political beliefs after reading or discussing such content on social media sites.

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, said people who are very active in expressing their political beliefs and those who participate in political activities use social media sites quite often. These users also report that the debates and discussions on these sites also affect them in return.

However, the research found that the great majority of social media users, 84 per cent, have posted content that is not related to politics in their latest comments, links, and status updates.

Rainie also noted that political content comprises just a small part of what they read and what they post, adding that the political impact of these sites “is modest at best”.