With social media you can adjust your timeline to mean you can literally just see the information you want to, whether this is information about your favorite political party, make up tutorials, information about your favorite pop star, or literally just 101 funny videos of cats. What you see is completely up to you and customized by you. Although this is a great function for personal use when it comes to politics and getting the ‘bigger picture’ it certainly has its quality downfalls.
In my opinion its so difficult to tell if the high use of social media improved the quality of the debate. Personally I don’t think it did, if anything it decreased the quality of the debate because of the immaturity of some of the social media interactions it actually detracted away from the seriousness of it. I found myself questioning a lot if most of the people who were tweeting #VoteLabour, actually even knew what labours policies were, or if they were just tweeting that because they felt pressured to incase they got ridiculed for wanting to vote for another party. In my opinion I don’t feel like the majority of the young people who were on social media telling people to vote labour knew exactly what the correct labour policies were or quite the extent of them and the repercussions on the country as a whole, but rather they were just following what they have understood of the policies from social media. For example the main thing that was plastered all over social media was that labour were planning on abolishing tuition fees and reintroducing maintenance grants for university students and although that sounds all fair and good on the surface, you cant see the bigger picture through the 140 characters that make up a tweet. This follows the idea that you shouldn’t believe everything that you see online, just because its on social media doesn’t mean its true….or the right thing for the good of the country. What labour supporters failed to tweet about was where was this money going to come from? It would result in higher tax on other fields to cover the costs of the tuition fees in order to keep the universities up and running and pay the staff.
These factors in my opinion meant that there may have been a slighter lower of quality of debate since the introduction of politics into social media as a new medium. People aren’t properly researching everything as they feel they have gained enough knowledge via their various feeds on their iphones and are voting purely based on this information fed to them. Another aspect that has resulted in a lower quality of debate is the amount of fake news there is that circulates the internet, I could tweet some completely fake information and if it gets 10K retweets or reposts people will believe its true, because of course, because its got so many shares it must be true! As I mentioned before social media has made people lazy which results in the lower quality of the debate because a lot of people will be voting on completely false information. How can you tell the real news from the fake news? This also raises the question of, do people only want to hear what they want to hear? Not what they need to hear?
Another point that I want to draw upon is that social media is such an inaccurate reflection on how the debate will go. If I were to place bets on the outcome of the 2017 debate I would have put a lot of money on Labour winning, I would also have put money that Hillary Clinton would have won due to the sheer volume of anti trump posts. To me this demonstrates that just because something is posted about a lot doesn’t mean it’s a confirmed outcome. It isn’t fashionable or accepted to agree with Donald Trumps policies or to agree with conservative’s policies, however they both still managed to win their campaigns. Does this mean that on social media we are being fed the correct information to result in a fair debate? Or are we just listening to the parties who can shout the loudest? People still need to read news papers, watch TV debates and listen to the news. Social media is powerful in order to be able to get a message out quickly however I worry that people are becoming lazy. If they only follow people, including celebrities, who share their views as such without other sources of information they will get a very biased, one sided view. An effective debate requires listening to people who you may not originally agree with, listening to their side so you have the whole story and the bigger picture, not just following the crowds on twitter.
For further reading read here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/31/labour-dominating-election-conversation-on-twitter-study-finds