Title

Social Networking Sites and Political Influence

Student Classification

Senior

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Tobin Walton

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Abstract

We are in the midst of a digital age. Social media use and virtual connection are growing as the global standard for social and political discourse. Considering the magnitude of this shift in dialectical venue, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the potentialities these proliferating interactions pose for a nation’s social and political future. Studies in this area have identified the impact of Social Networking Sites (SNS) manipulation of big data sets on recent political campaigns and decision-making. Although it is known that user data is collected by SNS to improve the online experience, little is known regarding the depth of this garnered information and the use of its employment. This realization poses three major questions that will be addressed within this article: 1. What ways have SNS influenced political discourse? 2. How aware are users of these influences? 3. How can we mitigate the potential harm the use of big data poses to the shaping of our realities? These questions will be answered by drawing on the findings of prior research, random sample survey distribution, and social media environment analysis. Study findings illuminate a growing need for legislation regarding the protection of digital civil liberties and greater transparency in the use of big data sets in the influence of the average user’s daily life.

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