Politics and Social Media

How the Internet has been used in political campaigns

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A timeline of the rise of the Internet and social media in American politics:

1994: Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California, put up the first campaign web site.

1996: Republican nominee Bob Dole gave the wrong URL for his website during a nationally televised debate. He didn't seem to suffer from the gaffe, which suggested how peripheral Internet politics was to a campaign at the time.

1998: The Minnesota campaign of independent Jesse Ventura featured email.

2000: GOP presidential candidate John McCain showed candidates could raise money online and use the Internet to disseminate political news and information.

2002: Interest groups and advocacy organizations put up websites for the midterm elections. Many voters turned to the Internet to get political information.

2004: Howard Dean's presidential campaign used blogs to generate voter interest, recruit, motivate volunteers and change the interplay between citizens and campaigns.

2006: Online videos rose during the midterm elections, highlighted by Virginia Republican George Allen's macaca video. Pre-recorded telephone calls soliciting votes, known as robo-calls, appeared in political campaigns.

2008: Social media tools were used including candidate Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, texting services and others. The New York Times said Barack Obama was the first presidential candidature to truly understand social media.

2010: Campaigners and voters relied heavily on social networking sites, such as Twitter, and innovation in mobile media.

The future: There will be increased use of social and mobile media, texting, viral videos and political apps.

Ponderable: Since the rise of Facebook and other social networking sites, do people live in political echo chambers in which they seal themselves inside info-bubbles where they encounter only others who share their political views and exchange similar ideas?

Data source: Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project

Learn more:
Political News Websites »
The Future of Social Media and Politics (Mashable) »
Using Social Media in Political Campaigns (New Media Campaigns) »
Next Big Thing in Social Media and Politics (Politico) »
The Rise of the Internet Electorate (Los Angeles Times) »
How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks' Power (New York Times) »
Politics and Social Media (Google search) »

Selected list of popular social media sites:
Resources for Courses »

© 2013 Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke    e-mail    home page