Social media’s impact on the political process is complicated

Both drawbacks and benefits can arise

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. Not only can social networking provide great marketing tools, it’s a chance to connect with others in different parts of the world, and help people gather information, it can also generate a negative impact by creating a false sense of reality and greatly affect an individual’s mental health.  

With people and lifestyles being exaggerated for the desire of likes and followers, it can be hard to really trust what is authentic when it comes to social media. 

Over the past decade, these platforms have helped political parties spread messages and influence voters of all ages. While most of the parties have taken to the media for promoting their voices and messages, Canadians have noticed that the Liberals tend to spend more money for advertisements on Facebook during the time of an election. 

While this is a smart tactic in getting wide demographic access, this has brought up an important debate among many Canadians. 

The fact social media can work as a blessing and a curse relates heavily to how politics are presented on these platforms. The blessing millions of people can have access to political news that they may not be provided with otherwise. This can be noted specifically with younger generations.

Market researchers have reported the average social media user spends around two and a half hours a day on social networking sites just in North America. The hours vary depending on the continents and countries. 

With many people engaging on networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it is a smart strategy for political parties to use to influence the votes of younger generations who don’t normally sit by their television and watch the news but gather it through other formats. 

But, this can also cause complications. These parties want you to vote for them, so it wouldn’t be surprising when shady lobbying or the display of misinformation comes into play. 

It’s such an issue that Facebook Canada announced they will moderate their platform so that Canadians will see less political content on their media feed. With some Facebook ads or posts containing inappropriate and untrue messages, many Canadians have agreed that they “don’t want political content to take over their News Feed.” 

This is a fair thing for people to want because social media can benefit, but also complicate the already hectic time we face during elections. Even with policies being created to stop misinformation and harmful advertising, it can be hard to see the benefits. 

But without social media, there may not be the same amount of young people voting and trying to make a change the same way. Even though social media can spread confusion and misinformation, networking has helped people connect, become part of a community, and find their voice, which is something to remember and celebrate.