Survey Overview

Basic Demographics

There were a few basic questions students needed to complete before continuing with the survey.  According to the survey results, approximately 43% of students who filled out our survey were seniors. About 61% of all of the students who completed the surveys were females, and 84% of the students were white.

Our Thoughts and Expectations

The Global SMAC predicted that the majority of students would feel that they are more involved in politics because of social media.  However, the SMAC also saw the opportunity for students to convince themselves that they were in fact being engaged in politics while never leaving their house to act on their statements online.  We predicted that their support would mostly be passive; joining groups posting and re posting online saying they are active but in the end never pulling the trigger and voting in the election. Before the survey we stated that students would agree that social media is used for networking and communicating, but would admit that they have received news through it and do belong to social and political groups

The Raw Data

We had asked students a few questions on social media and citizenship and democracy. The first question was: “ How frequently are you on social media sites?”  48.3% of students reported they were on these sites 0-2 hours a day.

When asked which source of information they go to, 53.2% of students stated that they receive information about politics from the television, whereas 52% percent of students receive this information from online news sites.   32.7% rarely use Facebook to get any information about politics, and 65% of students never use Twitter to get his information.

The third question was a statement : “I use social media to actively voice my opinions about things going on in the world…”  42.4% stated they “somewhat agree”, while 15.6% stated they “strongly agree”, and 17.8% percent stated they “strongly disagree.”

The fourth question was whether or not students belong to a political group, news group, or fan page on Facebook.  The answer?  63.7% of students stated they do not use Facebook for that, but 8.8% belong to a bunch of them.  The last question, “Did you vote in the 2008 presidential election?” 59.1% of students reported “yes”.

Conclusion

The results from the questions both debunked and backed up our predictions. The question asking where students get their information from came as a surprise. The majority of students get political news from the television networks as apposed to online sources, including social media. This question falls in line with the data received from the question regarding how many hours students spend on social media. However, The Global SMAC believes the data obtained from the questions might not be an accurate picture of reality due a negative social stigma attached to information being obtained from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, causing people to choose to answer that they obtain the majority of their information from TV, which has long since been established by society as a reliable medium.

Lastly, the results of how many students actually voted in the election is not surprising. While the most students use social media to voice their opinions and ideas about what should be done in their nation/state only a small majority of people actually acted and voted in the presidential election.

Drawn on research done outside the survey it was found that only 10% of students asked actually voted in the midterm elections, while the majority of the participants knew of the obscure candidates that received less than 5% of the popular vote, because of the amount of attention they received via social media sites like Youtube and Facebook.

In all the data creates a picture of current trends in society regarding social media as a viable news assembly service. People have agreed that they have followed links to news from social media sites, and were brought to major media outlets like CNN and FOX News. Our prediction for the future; social media will become part of people’s routine to gather information. It will be a hosting site that will be the gateway to information.

By: Asra Arif & Eric Ivanov

Social Media & The Midterm Elections!

Social Media & The Midterm Elections

By: Asra Arif

12 million users clicked the “I voted” button on Facebook in this past years elections compared to the 5.4 million in 2008.  This number is anticipated to increase for the 2012 elections.

The founding fathers of the United States could have never predicted that this country would one day be run by the internet.  Democratic issues are in the hands of social media, especially during election season.  Social network sites heavily influenced the midterm elections of 2010.  With Facebook as one of the prime components, it was easier for us to predict the election outcome. 2

“Facebook announced earlier today that there was a direct correlation between having more followers on their social media site and campaign success”[1]

Politicians have the internet to their advantage, which affects their title in the democratic world.  This years elections took place on November 10th, and the infographics clearly demonstrate how the runner’s popularity in the cyber world mimics their popularity in the real world.

According to Mashable, the Facebook data team concluded that in following 98 of the house runners, 74% of the candidates with the most fans on the site won.  Out of the 19 senate races, 81% with the most fans also won. Although media savvy campaigners don’t always win, such as Sharron Angle and Dino Rossi, when it comes to a close race, every fan, vote, and follower counts. [2]

Research on Facebook allows us to note which kinds of people vote, when they voted, and who they voted for.  This can lead researchers to conclude a trend that followed a certain candidate, and which factors may have influenced the election.

According to Facebook data on elections, more Republican senators involved themselves on Facebook compared to Democratic senators.  Once the polls closed and the results were in, 29 states had Repulican winners, and 19 had Democratic winners. [3]

Along with Facebook, other social networking sites projected winners, and many users contributed their insight on the midterm elections.  According to SarahEvans.com, different social sites reported their numbers on the elections based on online activity:

  1. Republicans had 61% of all online mentions
  2. Republicans were more engaged in online elections than the Democrats
  3. 36% of election conversations took place on mircroblogs, and 20% of it took place on social networking sites
  4. The election received about 4.6 million page views per minute through web news traffic [4]

It is important to know how much social media can influence politics.  Runners can use feedback from social connection sites to help sway votes by knowing what issues are most important to them.  InterSearchMedia.com conducted an experiment on their Twitter and Facebook pages regarding taxes, spending, and the economy.  The results showed that the least amount of people had concerns with tax, and the most amount of people had small business initiatives as their primary concern.  Politicians can use results like this to target Americans, which can help them win. [5]

ABC News has teamed up with Facebook since 2008 to live stream election coverage.  They were able to interact with users about issues that mattered most.  This interaction revealed which users voted for which candidate, and why they did just based on their status updates, questions, comments, and their opinions. 6

“Those who were slow to realize the shift in themes via social media comments, updates, websites, keywords and group lists won’t be scratching their head – they literally saw it coming… It is crucial to begin developing strong ties with the elements behind social media that make it work better.” 5


[1] DiMarco, Chris.  “Social Media Trends Predict Winners in Mid-Term Election”

.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 11, 2010.  http://election-2008.tmcnet.com/topics/technology-impact/articles/113758-social-media-trends-predict-winners-mid-term-election.htm

[2] Calabrese, Anthony.  “Social Media’s Impact on the Midterm Elections [Infographics]”

.  Published: November 09, 2010. Retrieved: November 11, 2010.  http://mashable.com/2010/11/09/social-media-elections-infographics/

[3] “Election Results: Governor Map”

.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/governor

[4] Evens, Sarah.  “Mid-Term Election 2010 by Social Stats”

.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://prsarahevans.com/2010/11/mid-term-election-2010-by-the-social-stats/

[5] Admin.  “

How Social Media Impacted the 2010 Elections.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://www.torycapital.com/2010/11/03/tech/social-media-impact-2010-elections/

6 Fitzsimmons, Caitlin.  “ABC News taps into Facebook for Midterm Elections”

.  Published: October 11, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://www.allfacebook.com/abc-facebook-election-2010-10

Tools To Be A Better Citizen

Want to be a better citizen?

Citizenship is part of democracy, with the world at our fingertips we have no excuse to stand by idly waiting for decisions to be made for us. The links below will help you sift through information and help you better navigate the media.

Follow the links to your freedom…

  • Find the News – The daily beast is a news source that you might have never seen before, its one of those hipster sites.
  • Know your government – This is a small time site that lets you read up on some issues and topics that are being debated right now. Good place to start, but be sure to check other places.
  • Understand the law – You can see the latest updates coming out of your government. Its a good way to keep tabs on them if you can handle reading the legal documents that are put out by the site.
  • Watch your media – This is just a site that lets you look at some trendy topics in social media, or get some interesting tips on how to be a savvy internet user.
  • Follow the SMAC – It is what it is. We have a Twitter
  • Watch for the SMAC – What kind of social media team would we be if we didn’t have any Youtube videos?
  • Get information from the House – The official word, useful, but don’t think this is the truth…it might not be, ever hear of Roswell?
  • Dissent from within the Twittersphere – The Iran twitter revolution was bad or good…this guy has mixed feelings.
  • Keep an eye on the fat cats – Careful here, but this can be a pretty useful site to find out some thing you didn’t know about, be sure to tweet it and keep your friends informed too.
  • The transformation – This is a book..We know its a little ridiculous to use something printed talking about the power of communities in an online space….nonetheless its quality.
  • The Social Sphere – It is a blog and that’s part of social media. This ones talks about the effectiveness of communities, the ideas they produce, and how they are turned into action.
  • Politics and Technology – Does technology like the Internet have any influence over politics?
  • Mashable – Social media can cause a wind to blow in the direction of politics.
  • Social Stats – I wouldn’t say this is a very educational site, but that doesn’t take away from the thing that are said.
  • Face News – ABC teamed up with Facebook for the midterm elections.
  • Project Virginia – Where Politics meets social media
  • The social media snapshot – A snapshot of the 2010 elections from a social media standpoint. A bit more serious than Social Stats above.
  • Prizes – How McCain planed to win the election…I guess he was too old to operate that sort of technology.
  • Mashing is good – 2 million tweets, did it do anything?
  • The infallible BBC – Iran and BBC, Why so hostile to each other?
  • Tweet of Freedom – Ask not what Twitter can do for you, Ask what you can do for the Twitter. Twitter: it did stuff for Iran.

Eric Ivanov