Twitter is not a replacement for campaigning

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Ashley Chen | Layout Editor

Students must stop relying on Twitter as a campaigning platform

Deeya Patel, Views Editor

From the perspective of journalism, Twitter was revolutionary for news in 2006. Instant breaking news updates and bite-sized previews to full articles presented a powerful and convenient way to relay information. Perhaps too convenient. In the contentious political climate of 2020, the way Twitter users — many of whom are college students — use the site as a campaigning platform does not match our current need for political participation.

There is no question of the impact Twitter has had in informing young voters. Through memes, retweeting from reliable news sources, and sharing their own opinions, students have contributed to a dimension of Twitter that allows users to sift through their feed and aids the process of narrowing down their top candidate. Using Twitter to inform oneself and other voters is powerful, especially when considering the concerning reality of how little voters thoroughly research before entering the polls. However, the appeal of Twitter’s encouragement of free speech in turn results in the inevitable spread of bias and misinformation that eventually lands on voter’s timelines. 

When considering the likelihood that many young voters solely use the site as a source of information to form their opinions on candidates, it’s dismaying to know that a sizeable percentage of the more than 4 million college students in the U.S. who are likely voters get their news primarily from a website riddled with bots, biased media and well-intentioned but misinformed friends. 

The convenience of Twitter has enhanced the political sphere not only through educating voters but also by providing another campaigning platform for candidates and supporters to expand their advocacy. The effectiveness of using social media for candidates to relay their ideas broadly and succinctly as opposed to limitations of political rallies is undeniable. The problem lies in solely using Twitter for campaigning, which is characteristic of many college students. Retweeting a candidate’s thoughts on Trump’s impeachment trial or tweeting about the opposition’s healthcare policies is not sufficient to boost a candidate to the presidency. 

The fact that students are politically engaged more than ever should be celebrated. Widespread reach — coming in part from Twitter — does produce an effective campaign, which is precisely how candidates are approaching the race. Everyone should be emulating this strategy in a time when it appears the upcoming presidential election could be more than pivotal. Phonebanks, organizing rallies, and even signing up as a volunteer to send texts to voters in your district is far more impactful that reaching only a narrow portion of the voting public on a single platform on the internet.