During the 2016 presidential campaign, social media played a key role in driving voter turnout. In fact, it has been estimated that Facebook took in $1.4 billion in digital advertising during the election. It was also the primary weapon of choice for President Barack Obama's campaign.
Facebook's influence on politics and elections has been hotly debated. For years, critics have complained that the platform allows free hands to mislead voters, particularly in the context of elections. However, a recent study suggests that Facebook may actually help encourage civic participation. Several studies show that users are more likely to vote when they have friends who voted. This may be due to peer pressure, as well as the influence of social media.
While it's still unclear how Facebook actually affects the outcome of an election, it's clear that political campaigns use social media to enhance their message. The platform also provides a platform for advertisers to target specific demographics. Regardless, the company has been the subject of numerous complaints over the past couple of years, and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been accused of being too close to President Trump.
A few months ago, a group of prominent academics and researchers launched a Facebook-funded research project to explore the ways in which people trust information they find on the site. Researchers will recruit 200,000-400,000 Americans to participate in a series of experiments. They will be asked to share data on their usage of the social media site and, if they choose, download apps that track their behavior online. Some participants will even be required to stop using the site altogether.
The project will also explore whether or not social media can improve voter participation. This study is part of a bigger effort to understand the relationship between technology and democracy.
The main research paper, which is still in the pipeline, will analyze the effects of different types of media on voting and voter engagement. It will also take a look at the social and psychological impact of online political campaigns.
The researchers plan to trawl the site for information on political ads and user behaviour. The results will be studied by a 17-person team of leading academics. These individuals will design experiments to test how the platform can help improve voter engagement and spread misinformation. Several members of the research team have a particular interest in politics. One of them is political scientist John Cuevas. He notes that Facebook's ability to manipulate the news feed could lead to more accurate information about elections.
While social media may help encourage citizen involvement in the upcoming midterms, it also raises a host of other concerns. Among them are privacy, surveillance, and tech ideology. All of these issues are not limited to Facebook, but they have been widely reported.