Social media is an extremely influential medium to connect and spread information to millions of people in seconds. It is a valuable and efficient way to receive news, however, it can also be damaging. In 2020, social media played a major role in the presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, bringing information to the supporters of both political candidates. But there were also some downsides to its utilization, as the usage of social media platforms to advocate for each candidate created a wide divide between Americans. Social media’s role in the 2020 election needs to be analyzed in its strengths and weaknesses and their overall role in the election.
The extensive use of social media to get the political agenda of both candidates across to the public was one like no other during this year’s pre-election process. The level of social media interaction during the political campaigns was groundbreaking and was definitely a first in American political history.
From ad campaigns on Instagram, to left or right-leaning stories on Snapchat, social media displayed itself as an important tool in getting people to vote for the right candidate. Those who supported Trump or Biden made their opinions very public, including celebrities. Through their social media platforms, they hoped to influence voter turnout in a way that they believed would help the country by being public advocates for their chosen candidate. Although controversial, this engagement led to a lot of public good. Those who supported either candidate felt comfortable publicly advocating for them because of the strength that others in the limelight have displayed with their shared political opinion.
The candidates themselves held a prominent presence on apps like Twitter and Instagram in order to make their goals and policies known in hopes of getting people on their side. Platforms such as Tik Tok became riddled with advocacy for users’ candidate of choice, as videos could be seen all over one’s For You Page about the strengths of Biden or Trump and how they are deserving of the title of President of the United States.
The 2020 election opened the minds up to young people like never before, as social media geared politics towards Generation Z, better known as Gen Z individuals, giving them more information so that they could form their own opinions. An article from PBS states that because of social media advocacy, younger generations feel more educated and invested in political issues, and that phenomenon is especially applicable to this year’s Presidential election.
Although social media was very useful to get the word out on one’s favored candidate and led to an increased younger audience in this year’s election, social media also led to a great divide before the election results. Those on social media could agree that political rivalry during the election process was not only frequent, but becoming the new normal. Some Biden and Trump supporters posted everything they could to advocate for their candidate, but in the process, a lot of users found themselves in heated debates.
Platforms like Twitter saw a rise in political disputes amongst the users. These types of debates led to prolonged arguments, and as more people got involved, more division arose between the Biden and Trump advocates. Both sides spread a political agenda that was useful for the success of their candidate, but bashed the other side, creating hostility amongst them. The two opposing sides found themselves invalidating or bashing the beliefs of another and overall social media led to a gap in unity over the 2020 election process.
About the same goes for the post-election period, where the results came in that Joe Biden had won the Presidential Election. Now that the news had spread that Biden had won, his supporters took to Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, and other platforms to spread the word and congratulate him. These types of posts also angered some of those who opposed Biden, and once again, political backlash was underway.
Those who were defending Biden’s win against those who were opposed to it seemed to be a massive trend on social media, as a lot of people engaged in this argument, and those who did not frequently contributed their outside commentary. As much as social media aims to safely protect all differing opinions, after the election process was over, it was difficult to bridge the American political divide that certain areas of the United States had experienced as a result of the 2020 election.
However, in the long run, when Biden was declared President Elect, social media was a great tool that helped those who were pleased with the results to celebrate. Those who have supported him during the election process used platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram to spread the word. These platforms connected those that advocated for him all over the nation, especially during a time where COVID discouraged gatherings, so that they could regroup about the win. By uniting his supporters, social media was very helpful in the sense that it provided a space where people could express their emotions about the results with others while still remaining safe during this time.
Social media, with its shortcomings and its advantages alike, has been such an impactful element in the 2020 election. Its use was not only a very influential factor in the preparation for Election Day, but something that contributed substantially to the outcome of the election. Social media platforms and their prominence was shown like no other election prior, and for this, history was made. Its ability to connect the masses, no matter what their political beliefs may be, was a monumental experience for everyone involved, including the candidates, their teams, and most importantly, the voters.