An Analysis of Social Media’s Effect on the Formation of Public Opinion

Last Updated: 17 May 2023
Essay type: Evaluation
Pages: 6 Views: 162

Using social media has evidently impacted the way society communicates and interacts with each other. It is used as an effective tool that provides a multitude of thriving opportunities. Social media is growing at an exponential rate, to the point where individuals are able to instantly connect with a network from all parts of the globe. Based on statistics portal known as Statista, "78 percent of U.S. Americans had a social network profile, representing five percent growth compared to the previous year." It can also be used as resource to learn, gather, and share information.

The variety of channels, such as mobile applications, websites, and technology, are available to people of all ages and backgrounds. Without a doubt, it is present in our everyday lives, especially in pop culture, business, history, and the economy. Most important, social media is a platform that is changing the world of politics in the digital age. It is affecting the way public opinion is being shaped. Social networks are revolutionizing the voting, election, and campaign process. Internet polling can be applied as a means of gauging public opinion. Social media gives individuals a platform where they are able to freely express their opinions.

To begin with, social media contributes to politics in the form of directly influencing public opinion. According to chapter six of American Government and Politics Today: Brief Edition, public opinion is referred to as the "aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs shared by some portion of the adult population." Social media is a factor that heavily influences society and their collective view on a particular matter. Public opinion is created in numerous ways. People gain more insight on politics through political socialization, which is the process of attaining political ideals and principles. An element that can influence one's political values is family members and friends. This social circle can provide different perspectives on certain topics, which can directly affect one's political identity.

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Certain family members or peers have different tastes and preferences, and may accept or reject specific types of mass media. Furthermore, someone in this group may only find interest in a particular social media channels. It really depends on the type of environment that the peers and family members create. Some groups might not be open to particular forms of media, in which they might interpret it in a different way. Also, everyone has the right to choose when or when not to participate in a political discussion. What it comes down it is how and where users find their sources of media, and whether they want to continue the political conversation at hand.

Given these points, a group may react to a political dialogue in different manner. This can result in a divisive opinion: a type of public opinion that is split among two different points. Otherwise, a consensus is possible, where each person comes to a mutual agreement. As you can see, it is essential to recognize that social media creates an important role in the formation of public opinion.

Similarly, polling can be implemented in order to measure public opinion. Polling includes a concept known as representative sampling. A quality that makes poll taking important is randomness. Anyone who is involved always has the same opportunity to be a part of the sample procedure. In fact, this process can help with figuring out several choices: a specific preference in politics and voting patterns. There are three ways in which polls can influence the public opinion they purport merely to measure. Through internet polling, there is a better understanding of what issues the participant is most interested in. Also, participants can categorize themselves with a specific party. From this method, the participant is able to express their opinions on the assortment of candidates.

Just being interviewed tends to arouse interest and to encourage some respondents to inform themselves and to clarify their views on the subject. It may even increase electoral participation (Lang 1984; Lang 1984).

Additionally, there are enough pieces of information that shows the majority not using the feared bandwagon effect. A significant amount of the participants are knowledgeable of the poll results. Participants seem to react in a variety of ways, such as tactical voting. Because of these reactions, another effect may come up as well. Participants may believe that "there is little support for one's viewpoint can discourage and even intimidate the advocates of a minority viewpoint." The polls may discourage discussion or possibly act as a corrective. This in turn makes the alternative view even less popular.

Secondly, there is a positive correlation between social media and voting, political campaigns, and elections. Traditionally, campaigns were very personal. As time progressed, campaigns later explored the significant role of social media in politics. Scholars have argued that the Internet is a democratizing medium for its capacity to provide increased access to information and interaction, bringing individuals into the political process (Delli Carpini, 2000).

Currently, voters receive most of their information through countless social media. It is crucial for campaigns to showcase a nominee's message and point of view to their respective audience. Social media can be used as a means of improving popularity and exposure. These campaigns are building off of the different forms of social media that have a lot of politically active users. It appears to be so strange, because society is only used to thinking about politicians reaching their voters through traditional means. For example, the social networking application Twitter has a notably great impact in political movements.

The increasing use of Twitter by politicians, journalists, political strategists and citizens has made it an important part of the networked sphere in which political issues are publicly negotiated. (Ausserhofera 2013; Maireder 2013)

Gradually finding that one hundred forty characters for a tweet serves as a very powerful tool. Many political candidates are developing new strategies to attract more followers. There is a decreasing belief in large institutes particularly among younger voters. Traditional new sources have been approved if it was shared or referred to by a friend. Social sharing of news stories is such an important thing that is shaping minds this selection. Besides Twitter, other social networking applications like Facebook and Instagram.

A lot of the current political candidates, such as Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, use this strategy in order to collect more data for their campaigns. Candidates make sure to build their brand, as well as build up a much bigger following. Some candidates, such as Donald Trump has been so skilled at storytelling, entertaining and branding. Followers who view his posts are connected, entertained, as well as informed. It is important to remain active in the world of social media. He recognizes the way social media has remodeled the news cycle. His need to be amusing and engaging has become vital. A policy paper will not get shared, because it is not as appealing. Candidates do not have to spend much of their time, money, and efforts on television advertisements anymore.

The traditional model would think to use as much money as possible to spend on television advertisements. Users will "encounter ideas and opinions not well represented in traditional news media (Gillmor, 2006), which likely increases their interest in further information seeking." Candidates like Donald Trump are able to focus more on social media. His presence on social media comes with a goal in mind: he wants the audience to stay engaged and entertained. No matter what the context of the post may be, there still seems to be an audience that talks about him in regards to his posts.

As a result, he is able to gather millions of views throughout the day, where Trump is able to get his point across. Donald Trump has yielded successful results, as he is consistently sending little bits of material to the world through Twitter. The content that is posted across all of his social media platforms is free of charge. As it may seem extreme or childish, his posts actually have an intended purpose. His strategy and aim is for others news and media outlets to report on it. It is very efficient as it did not require much manpower to get his point across the masses. Everyone will be talking about it. Social media is done in a provoking fashion. It is crucial for candidates to create and capture moments that its viewers can share.

Ultimately, it is most important to realize how much of an impact social media has on the political process. What is crucial to understand is that this is merely the beginning of social media's influence on the way we see politics. There are so many outlets, avenues, and channels that are being used in order to get a point across. It is great to see participants as well as candidates fully embrace these ways of communicating in order to connect with others. It is great to be a part of this process, and constantly see it grow as well. Where will politics be in the next coming years alongside with social media? We will soon find out in the near future.


  1. "U.S. Population with a Social Network Profile 2016 | Statistic." Statista. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May
  2. Ausserhofer, Julian, and Axel Maireder. "NATIONAL POLITICS ON TWITTER." Taylor & Francis. Routledge, 04 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 May 2016.
  3. Delli Carpini, M. X. (2000). Youth, civic engagement, and the new information environment. Political Communication, 17, 341–349. Gillmor, D. (2006). We the media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people.
  4. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media.
  5. Lang, Gladys E., and Kurt Lang. "The Impact of Polls on Public Opinion." The Impact of Polls on Public Opinion. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Mar. 1984. Web. 17 May 2016.

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An Analysis of Social Media’s Effect on the Formation of Public Opinion. (2023, May 17). Retrieved from

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