Social Media Technology and Government Transparency

Topics: Current Events

Government transparency is a concept that people have the right to know what their government is doing and as a government, they have an obligation to share any information with the public. However, there are many ways to interpret government transparency and nowadays, it is easily obtainable from different outlets through social media. The most well-known internet-based applications and social networks that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These mediums have altered the way people interact and spread multimedia content like photos and videos every where in the world.

The revolution of these social media networks embraces transparency, participation, and collaboration. Throughout the recent years, the use of social media have been very crucial. It has increased the political poll results, which has been a big influence on elections and it also enables politicians to target a specific demographic. For instance, advertisers on Facebook are able to use analytics and targeted advertising (Satterfield, 2016), so can candidates and politicians especially utilize it on the same social network platform that use this specialized targeting.

As social media becomes ever more popular, its effect on politics will only increase over time and make it accessible for the public to obtain information.

The implementation of social media into politics has been very beneficial for the public. In a generation where people heavily stream video and music, YouTube became one of the social media networks that made it easy to access videos from candidates and even charts that showcase the amount of views they were receiving each week and each day.

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Twitter and Facebook has been two other platforms that also allows the public access governmental current events especially the political conversation in California. From then on, it allowed other people to use this platform to stay connected with current political events. Furthermore, the use of social media created a tool in efforts to institute government transparency in California, which made a positive impact by enabling the people to remain connected with the government. Although it has made such a positive impact, merging social media and politicians together have their setbacks and controversial instances.

Television has been one of the main sources of receiving crucial information from the government. The first televised presidential debate was with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. From then on, it created the idea that his or her public appearance represented strength and power. As the internet started to rise and social media became popular, politicians and candidates took advantage of these platforms, especially YouTube. In 2008, Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign utilized YouTube in a smart new way (Washenko, 2012), which was the gateway transition of politics. Obama’s use of the social media platform helped him reach the youth demographic and earned $500 million of his fundraising total during the campaign. His execution demonstrated that grasping how to engage your supporters on a certain media channel could benefit your campaign. Teddy Goff, Obama’s Digital Director, said, “It’s the ability to get your message out quickly that makes all the difference,” and that is the reason YouTube is the right platform to use in politics ( Washenko, 2012). YouTube’s appeal allows politicians to create messages more engaging. “It’s hard to be persuasive through a direct advertisement. But if you can get people to share videos, it adds a degree of credibility because a friend is endorsing it and people will take it more seriously,” Darrell West of the Center for Technology Innovation mentions. Since everything is accessible on YouTube, it became a more direct platform for people to comment and debate. Also, this gives candidates an opportunity to see what others think of them and their policy.

Not only was YouTube a good platform to obtain information about current events from the government, but Facebook has also become one of the bigger social media platforms for politics. Facebook is based in California allowing people to add other people as “friends” and exchange messages and other things through this network. In addition, Facebook plays a very crucial role in giving out political information by the advertisements it puts out. In 2016, it helped the Trump campaign win the election. Similar way Obama received his campaign donations through YouTube, Trump earned $250 million just from online fundraising (Lapowsky, 2016). Trump used Facebook as the main source of his advertising and utilized it in a way that no presidential campaign has before (Lapowksy, 2016). Unlike Trump, Hilary Clinton spent more than “$200 million on television ads in the final months” (Lapowksy, 2016). He realized that in order for him to acquire more votes he had to reach out to the youth. Since everything transitioning to the internet, his team invested in new ways of using the digital tools and platforms that have come to dominate the media landscape (Lapowsky, 2016).

Facebook made it accessible for those who want to run for office and people to obtain information about the government. The social networking site allows you to set up a campaign on Facebook. Specifically in California, there are ways to search different acts and others going for office. For instance, there is a California Disclose Act page on Facebook that anyone is able to join. This makes it attainable to whoever believes in this act, making it effortless to obtain useful information. As a supporter, the Facebook page allows anyone to contact each other and even receive updates. Those running for office in California can create their own page, making it easy for their supporters to interact and receive information. Furthermore, the social platform enables for anyone to condense their search to be able to see candidates or acts in California. All in all, Facebook is useful to obtain and spread information.

Twitter has also been a part of the transition of politics into the digital world. It is an interactive social media site that can send out messages called “tweets”. They allow users to interact with each other and provide current event news. Twitter allows direct communication to the world. It’s an immediate and often unfiltered idea of communication (Sullivan, 2013). It has allowed others to acquire quick news and for candidates, Twitter has been a way to connect directly with constituents (Sullivan, 2013). Twitter has such an effective platform that the federal court ruling that California’s gay marriage was unconstitutional (Sullivan, 2013). Many people instantly reacted positively than negatively. Candidates and politicians tend to use twitter as a way to express their opinion quicker. For example, Trump uses his twitter platform to really push his opinions and concerns out to the world. According to BBC News, Donald Trump prefers tweets more than traditional media. He has not held a press conference since July 27. Although he has given a few interviews, he has tweeted more than 130 times (BBC, 2016). He has really mastered the use of twitter and made his presence known. Although Donald’s tweets were controversial, it ignited a lot of conversation amongst the public.

Similar effect goes for the government in California. Although no one tweets the same way as trump, California government organizations have twitter pages that release updates and information. People can follow those pages and instantly get information on current events about California legislative. In addition, representatives can easily respond to you about their opinion about today’s issues. For instance, Representative Eric Swalwell, D-Calif proposed that he would nuke his own constituents to take away their right to defend themselves from the government (Lowe, 2018). This resulted into an argument with a conservative, Joe Biggs, who argued that he would not give up his rights to defend himself from the government. It is evident that transparency in our legislative is shown through opinions made from people in the office. This is a more direct way to share important information and hold politicians accountable for their actions. Twitter helps showcase what their beliefs are and what government is like to further prevent corruption in our legislation.

However, there can be some drawbacks of these social media platforms influence on the political discussion. All it takes for a mistake to take place from a candidate and have them caught in a video to destroy what reputation they built for themselves. In addition, allowing a politician to send out unfiltered tweets or Facebook posts might lead them into some controversy (Murse, 2018). It is considered a free network and many unofficial information about any number of candidates can surface and is probably there for good (Washenko, 2012). Social media is also considered the technology to obtain the youth. According to Mara Fiorentini of Odyssey, “if a millennial’s only source of information is social media, they are most likely not getting the full story because of the manipulation of information.” Many people are quick to “share” and “retweet” something that has a relation to the current campaign without doing some quick research to fact-check. Most information that is shared on social media only showcase the best or the worst of a campaign or a politician and never really inform the public about the policy being made to better the community. Majority of the time, these social media platforms create “filter bubbles” for their users. According to Gordon Hull of the Conversation, he states that targeted advertising behind Facebook’s newsfeed helps to create such filter bubbles by determining its users interest (Hull, 2017). Users get news and updates from the government but it will only be anything they are interested. Despite these negative effects, social media is beneficial in receiving information and bringing the community together to converse.

Government transparency is an idea where people have the right to obtain information about the government or events about the government. There are other ways to interpret what government transparency is. Nowadays, our form of government transparency is the use of social media. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have been the main source of obtaining important information from the government especially in California. These platforms allows openness from the government to the people. It prevents corruption and allows the public to hold people in office accountable for their actions. Furthermore, the use of social media created a tool in efforts to institute government transparency in California, which made a positive impact by enabling the people to remain connected with the government. Although it has made such a positive impact, merging social media and politicians together have their setbacks and controversial instances. All in all, social media has made a big impact on politics and allows everywhere to be involved.

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Social Media Technology and Government Transparency. (2022, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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