Twitter: The New Political Pulpit
Just what is the evolving role of Twitter in politics?
We've all seen celebrities air their drama on television, in print, and on social media. The same goes for the reports of the edge social media integration gave President Barack Obama in his re-election campaign, as well as the role it played in propelling the Arab Spring. Now world leaders and U.S politicians alike are using social media as a platform on which to gain political points.
Of the list of 15 US politicians / Twitter warriors compiled by Business Insider, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassely stands out as one that regularly takes to Twitter to attack opponents and challenge policy:
Here we see this online political warfare extending beyond the campaign period, to anytime a mass social media pulpit is needed.
Political uses for Twitter include:
- Opposition Research: The Sunlight Foundation has developed a tool called Politwoops where deleted tweets from politicians are shared. This tool is a record of online political blunders and can harm a candidate who attempts to hide any missteps.
- Rapid Response: Twitter can also be an effective in defending a political position. In response to the shoddy healthcare rollout, the White House communications department assembled a Twitter army to defend the Affordable Care Act's implementation process. Twitter is much faster than issuing a press release and White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest realizing that fact, tweeted:
Rueters recently analyzed the 'White House Twitter army' to find the following:
- Twiplomacy: Marketing Magazine reports that half of world leaders and nearly all international organizations are using Twitter for 'Twiplomacy' to interact with one another. Twiplomacy is actually a formal study of 193 UN member countries and 505 accounts associated with heads of state, heads of government, and ministers of foreign affairs. These accounts have combined following of 105,733,356 people as of July 1, 2013.
- Current landscape: All and all, Twitter is becoming a forum for both positive and negative political discourse where average citizens and world leaders can engage.
- Future landscape: Twitter is empowering people towards political efficacy and providing a channel for the otherwise unconnected and apolitical to converse with world leaders. With the total number of internet users set to reach 3 billion in 2014 Twitter and other social media outlets will be more important to political discourse in the near future.