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

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Where Politics meets Social Media?

By: Brian Molinari

With the increased popularity of Social Media, it seems like everyone is trying to tap that resource like a secret oil well. The problem is, now everyone knows! It seemed like at first this movement was predominantly in the youth. From there, Democrats had the upper hand, but now everyone has jumped into the race.

ProjectVirginia is a conservative effort aimed at taking back some of the social media world that seems to have been dominated by Barack Obama videos and democratic blogs. This conservative blog, with the tagline: “Where politics meets social media,” is not paid for by a specific campaign or party member(s).  At its basic function, this blog-based website tells the people of Virginia whats happening in the GOP party. It has blog posts with stories about politicians and their agendas but it also has a whole lot more under the surface.

ProjectVirginia uses Twitter and Facebook statuses and comments, as well as its main blog to increase awareness about politics. They are using social media to inform and attract grown adults, making them want to support the GOP. This also works in their favor when attracting young voters and civilians. Among all blogs on the internet, ProjectVirginia is ranked 1910. That is very successful considering  they focus mostly on Virginian conservatives.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, McCain tried to launch an agenda on the web to spread word of his policies. They offered prizes and gifts for people who sent stories, links, and videos in supporting McCain across the internet. Little did they know,  they could host a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page themselves. Believe it or not, this campaign for social media support did little to nothing when compared to Barack Obama’s social media blitz.

ProjectVirginia stretches their audience out by blogging about national issues, politicians, or ideas. One of the stories on the main page was actually a blog post about the relationship between John McCain and MTV’s “Snooki”. Yes, that’s right. McCain and ‘Snooki” are Twitter friends, posting tweets back and forth wishing the reality star a happy birthday and even diving into issues like taxes on tanning salons. This culture jam, mixing a former presidential candidate with a current reality tv star is something that has spawned from the current social media outbreak. In the past, there would be no communication between two people of these types. Now with Social Media, politicians can seek out new supporters by connecting with celebs through social media.

Websites and blogs like this should become more popular and they are finding out how to reach the emotions of party supporters. Politicians are realizing that they need to tap this well of untouched riches. Blogging is a great way to connect with new voters and old supporters. It offers easy ways to connect your blog with any other social media outlet, such as twitter and facebook. This social media barrage can help politicians spread the word about their policies, local gatherings, and also can be used to spread stories that may drum up support for their conservative cause. The blog offers up to the second access, and always has a place on the web for citizens to look at it now or in the future.

Resources:

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/11/03/snapshot-of-presidential-candidate-social-networking-stats-nov-2-2008/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/06/AR2008080603589_pf.html
http://www.wikio.com/sources/projectvirginia.com-HhOOo
http://projectvirginia.com/mccain-snooki-resume-tweeting-over-birthday/
http://twitter.com/projectvirginia

Vote for @BarackObama!

By: Kimberly Cervone

It has been noted by hundreds of observers that President Barack Obama has an impeccable presence on the Internet, through social media. The role of social media and the Internet played a huge role in Obama’s success during the presidential campaign, post-inauguration and still today. “Obama decided that he wants to make social media tools a permanent part of his political strategy.” [1] Obama’s promise to the people was to be an easily accessible president through social media. His image and ideas were all over Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and the blogosphere.

Barack Obama joined Twitter in April 2007 prior to the election. During the campaign there was an abundance of Twitter use by Obama, he updated his account at least once a day with news, information and videos.  Soon after his inauguration the @BarackObama account seemed to be less of a priority and the @WhiteHouse account became the main focus. The Obama Team tweets constantly from this account.

 

Obama’s usage of Facebook and MySpace during the campaign was to reach out to Obama’s social media followers. “Barack Obama has made history with his Facebook/MySpace usage.”[2] Since MySpace has slowly become less used as a site in general. His Facebook updates are still flowing with newsfeeds, videos, links, and pictures. Barack Obama is the number one most “liked” page on Facebook. Obama’s inauguration was posted on Facebook, and was viewed by millions of people.

During the campaign Obama used YouTube to add touching stories and to give people a look at his personal life behind the scenes. These efforts were beneficial because they were both personal and very active. Although Obama does still use his personal account, most of the posts come from the user The White House Channel. Practically, every day a new video is posted, whether it is his weekly video addresses, live video press conferences and town halls. These are much more effective as easily accessible visuals, then a simple radio address. These videos have certainly increased his social media press conference.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, both candidates had a strong blogging presence. Post-inauguration, Obama worked from two primary blogs Organizing for America Blog, and The White House Blog. The Barack Obama Team frequently updates both of these blogs. However, it has been discussed on numerous sites that the people see a personal post from Obama himself every now and then, rather then his team.

Barack Obama’s use of social media has been phenomenal.  He started with a strong online presence, and his image continues to flourish. With the help of his team, Obama will be remembered for his great quantity of social media use.

 

Resources:

Ostrow, Adam. “How Will President Obama Use His Massive Social Media Influence?” Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 11 Nov. 2010. <http://mashable.com/2008/11/05/obama-social-media/&gt;.

Parr, Ben. “Obama: Does He Pass the Social Media Test?” Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://mashable.com/2009/07/04/obama-social-media-scorecard/&gt;.

 


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

Giving You A SMAC Into The Future

This is the Global SMAC! We’re working to bring you into the future of Social Media And Citizenship.

The Global SMAC has the noble goal to slice through the noise and find out just how social media has pushed us in a new direction of participation in democracy and the community. You may think social media just includes Facebook and Twitter, but you’d be wrong. Social media is everything we know and love today. It is everything from Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, to Digg, iReport and Storify. The crown for some of the most savvy usage of social media must go to Barack Obama….although Her Majesty The Queen of England did just got a Facebook.

Global SMAC’s Mission: To research, delineate, and report the information about how social media and the Internet have shaped our opinions, perceptions, and attitude on politics and community involvement.

Citizenship and democracy go hand in hand, but our view of them is being altered because of digital mediums like the Internet, specifically social media. For politicians the question is no longer, How many people can I get to my rally? It has become, How many follows can I get on Twitter? How can I spread my message to places without spending millions of dollars in TV adds? Democracy relies on the participation of its citizens to function properly. The idea of democracy has not changed, we have.

Our ideas of participation have morphed into something very different than what our founding fathers could have ever conceived. The majority of Americans have moved off of the street corner and onto the web in an attempt to support their candidates. Global SMAC will explore the reasons for this shift in participation, and how it is changing American politics.

Do we now choose our leaders based on how many people create movies and remixes of them on Youtube? Has Twitter become the “winning” factor in political campaigns? Whatever the answer it really doesn’t change the fact that social media has become a driving force behind people’s decisions regarding politics, and how the country should be run.

This “revolution” is not just in the United States, but all over the globe. More and more people are chiming in on everything dealing with Western policies, and political regimes in countries like Iran. Examples of how social media has influenced participation in world events and local ones alike are explored by our researchers. From simple case studies a clear reason for how Twitter working in the “Iranian Revolution” or how much weight Youtube had during the elections in the United States between McCain and Obama.

The data found from the research conducted by Global SMAC will either support or overthrow the ideas that have been put forth by many people. Some questions that will be answered are as follows:

1. Has social media made the public apathetic about politics and democracy?

2. Are Social network sites contributing to the conversation or masking the true problems in society?

3. Has voting been affected by social media (have more people voted because they felt empowered by social media)?

4. Do people know more information about politics and the candidates, or have they become politically polarized?

5. Has social media given people a false sense of understanding about politics and issues around the globe?

Citizenship is part of democracy, but Global SMAC is treating it as a separate entity, focusing on the individual rather than the collective outcome of whole. A simple example is a blog, or a personal web page. The internet has allowed people to develop their own personalities online, and project their voice beyond the town square and into the global conversation.

Global SMAC will explore if one person’s thoughts actually have an affect on what others do an say. Is the social media they use an effective way to deliver their message to the public, or does their voice get cut down by bigger voices like major news networks?

It is through the use of social media that many people in today’s society have been able to “voice” their opinions. Major criticisms about that often cite that almost no internet traffic goes to the majority of the public blogs. Even if that were true, does it matter? Should the value of being a citizen be measured in the amount of popularity that you have? The Global SMAC says no. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should be able to tell their story.

Global SMAC is dedicated to delivering accurate up-to-date information that is relevant to everyone living in the digital age. To learn more follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our channel on Youtube.

The Global SMAC

~Know Your Media

The Online World

Eric Ivanov