Social media is a powerful force. So powerful, in fact, that it was able to help the presidential candidates make waves during the election.
Twitter, in particular, was a veritable battleground for the nominees and their supporters. In 140 characters or less, one candidate or the other could influence a whole movement. Social media has become so integrated into everyday life that 17% of crowdfunding donations are seen through social media and then made through mobile devices.
The power of social media has already been proven. With hashtags like #blacklivesmatter and #yesallwomen starting social movements — which are still standing strong — it’s hard to dispute the power of the Internet’s interconnected-ness.
The way Clinton and Trump used Twitter is demonstrative of how a single social media message can be used to reach countless people across a nation and even around the world. The 2016 presidential election used this frequently, and candidates could often be seen taking to Twitter, Facebook, and even Snapchat to reach their followers and raise awareness.
Hashtags only served to fuel the fire, quite literally. Phrases like #Hillaryforprison and #dumpTrump flooded the Internet, demonstrating just how heated this election cycle truly was.
“We’ve reached a point where social media has really kind of reinforced existing divisions and maybe made them worse,” said University of Wisconsin professor of life sciences communication Dietram Scheufele.
President Obama used social media to effectively raise awareness for his campaigns in 2008 and 2012, but this election cycle has brought a new form of viciousness to social media and politics.
There has certainly never been a campaign quite like Trump’s, in which single tweets were turned into national news stories.