Opinion: Social media users play a risky game when discussing politics


By Leah Heon, RT Magazine Executive Producer

Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can be renowned communication tools for friends and family members, but they are not a platform to discuss politics. As the political climate has become tumultuous as ever, people have taken to social media to voice their opinions and engage in heated debates, sometimes with complete strangers. This topic becomes incredibly out of hand when public officials dive into the inappropriate use of social media and create a hostile environment. 

Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren conducted an experiment in order to expose the falsehood that social media can promote. Warren’s campaign paid Facebook to run an intentionally falsified advertisement regarding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s support for President Trump’s reelection, revealing the company’s apparent tactics.

This Facebook phenomenon has reassured the cliche that a post on a website does not promise any truth. These actions also prove how many lies we hold within our fingertips, which some choose to believe and spread. 

Those who are not politically informed might look to social media and immediately believe what they read, stirring the pot of falsehood. Unlike a newspaper or broadcast news source, a simple tweet or Facebook post is not put through an effective fact-checking process. Social media allows users to speak with negligence and not with purpose. 

This means of communication can be harmless, but when the conversation shifts to politics, users should think twice about what they type. I am in full support of one using their resources to have a voice, but there comes a time to stop and think twice about engaging in political discussion through a screen. 

For political figures, such as the president, social media allows for unnecessary name calling and rudimentary debates through a phone screen. Recently, President Trump’s ongoing feud with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi intensified as he referred to her as “Nervous Nancy” on Twitter. These actions foster the idea that acting in an immature manner is acceptable not only in person, but online as well. 

Although social media provides a place for users to mundanely discuss politics, the forum can also be a highly engaging platform for politicians. With the changing times, political figures are undeniably going to use social media to be in touch with their audience, they would be clueless not to. Not all social media usage for political reasons is negative, as it serves as a way to get people involved and informed on current events. 

Although in the Unites States we fortunately have the freedom to say what we wish, we should not be careless with our words.