Democracy is a situation whereby people are represented directly in the government. Social media, on the other hand, refers to platforms that are available on the internet for purposes of interaction between different people. It includes sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Social media plays a vital role as far as democracy is concerned either directly or indirectly. It is a means of politicians’ acquisition of votes during the period of political campaigns (Price, 2013). The politicians are able to share their manifestos via the social platform. This helps the citizens weigh the viability of that candidate. The profiles in the political actors’ official pages act as guidelines to the voting public on whether they are eligible to grant good leadership.
Social platforms are good in enhancing democracy because they act as a means of information sharing. Democracy requires citizens to participate actively in political matters to fully understand the system rules to the letter. The media, therefore, should act as a platform of good governance through offering information, education, and mobilization to the general public (Parmelee & Bichard, 2012). Politicians are also in a position to provide answers to the questions asked and this allows a good information flow between all the parties involved thus creating goods relations.
Social media is a conduit between a political actor and voters. It gives room for debate between the parties and this serves as a basis of decision-making. The citizens are able to gauge politicians depending on how they react to challenges posed to them via tweets. Citizens not only follow those politicians who they share the same opinions with, but also those whom they are opposed to so they can get to know about their planned moves (Price, 2013). The politicians on the other hand can be in a position to give a personalized answer to such potential followers.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook act as platforms where the common citizen is able to have a personalized touch with their leaders (Bilton, 2014). They can send tweets directly to them and air out any issues that they would want to be addressed.
Media platforms have helped in enhancing government transparency and accountability (Gainous et al., 2014). This has facilitated democracy because every action taken by the politicians is posted online and the corrupt politicians are exposed. Upon receiving such information, the citizens are able to make informed decisions about the political leaders they would follow or oppose.
The media, besides having positive attributes in line with democracy, can also be a source of fear among people. Opposing parties can pose threats to each other, which may lead to unwanted violence. Disagreements on various political matters may bring division in a country leading to democratic decay.
Social media can also be used to the disadvantage of the politicians where some defaming information about political aspirants may mislead the public (Omede & Alebiousu, 2015). This especially applies to people who rely heavily on social media discussions to make decisions about which politician to follow. For example, Donald Trump’s Twitter account has many provocative tweets.
It is clear that social media plays a significant role in democracy establishment. It has helped to make communication much easier, and the liberty to share ideas has been enhanced (O’Reilly & Milstein, 2011). People become enlightened about what democracy pertains social media. It creates tolerance among social groups, and human rights are also protected.
Bilton, N. (2014). Hatching Twitter: A true story of money, power, friendship, and betrayal. Portfolio.
Gainous, J., Wagner, K. M., & Oxford University Press. (2014). Tweeting to power: The social media revolution in American politics. New York: Oxford University Press.
LaMarre, H. L., & Suzuki-Lambrecht, Y. (2013). Tweeting democracy? Examining Twitter as an online public relations strategy for congressional campaigns. Public Relations Review, 39(4), 360-368.
Omede, A.J., & Alebiosu, E.A. (2015). Social media: A trend or a threat to democracy? Journal of Research in National Development, 13(1).
O’Reilly, T., & Milstein, S. (2011). The Twitter book. O’Reilly Media.
Parmelee, J. H., & Bichard, S. L. (2012). Politics and the Twitter revolution: How tweets influence the relationship between political leaders and the public. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Price, E. (2013). Social media and democracy. Australian Journal of Political Science, 48(4), 519-527.