The role social media plays in politics


COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Social media can play a vital role for candidates in election season.

We’ve seen it before where a candidate said or did something controversial then it trends all over the internet.

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From controversial remarks made by a state senator, to a controversial video of an inmate putting signs together with the sheriff’s name on them.

Whenever political controversy happens, social media is usually the go-to platform where it’s aired.

“This is the time for people to look through their archives, whatever might be on their cell phone or anything that might be left over from an old media appearance that might be recovered and could be used, and in some cases taken totally out of context to try to make some sort of political point or get somebody political advantage,” said Dr. Brian Anderson, Political Science Professor at Mississippi University for Women.

Anderson said sometimes candidates will do these things as part of a political strategy.

“Sometimes bad news is all the news you get,” Anderson described. “You can turn bad news in the moment into a means of getting further attention and it might actually draw attention to your message.”

Anderson admitted controversial things released on social media can play a factor in the outcome of an election.

At times, he said it can work to a candidate’s advantage.

“It could be something that while embarrassing say in a kind of mainstream sense, might actually appeal to some of their base,” the political science professor said.

However, there are also times when it can work against them.

“If there’s something clearly depicted, especially like a physical act of violence or crime or something like that, that’s going to be very difficult for the candidate to recover from,” said Anderson.

The political science professor said just because one candidate might overcome something negative being published about them on social media, it doesn’t work that way for every candidate.

“There’s no one model for how these things play out,” he explained. “It depends on the actual issue, and also how skillfully the candidate handles the revelation of this information.”

Anderson said it’s not a surprise when these types of things happen.

He said it’s all a part of politics.