UArizona expert says voters are fairly dependent on social media

Posted at 7:24 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 16:47:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz.  — The public has seen political ads pop up on social media platforms urging them to vote for specific candidates.

University of Arizona Communications Professor Kate Kenski said one unique difference is most people are fairly dependent on social media this election. She explained this can be predetermined by algorithms and who we follow on social media and that could lead to skewed views.

"We know from 2012 and 2016 is that users, just general citizens, take clips from the debate and then put their own embellishments on it," said Kenski.

She said this opens the potential for skewed views.

“Social media again tends to eat at what we want to believe, what our friends and family [believe] without thinking about others. I think there's that tendency for us to become so self-centered and so self-focused because it's eating us, our desires,” she explained.

Although the debates will be aired on television, Kenski said not everyone will be watching. That's what leads people to see bits and pieces on social media.

“It's kind of a second-hand debate effect, rather than a firsthand,” she said.

She said rather than focusing on the mess up voters should be focusing on the issues.

"Pay attention to what the candidates stand for-- what their policy positions are rather than the little mess up here and there because it's those policy positions that are what are going to shape things for our community in the years to come,” said Kenski.