Millennials’ Use of Social Media in the 2016 Elections
Peyten Maki, a second-year Honors student, has written a timely and incisive review of Social Media Use among Young Adults in the 2016 Election as part of the Digital Arts and Humanities Initiative. The hypermedia project, featuring linked annotations and memes from the presidential election campaigns, gives a helpful history of this crucial medium. Maki has a much clearer-eyed take on the role of social media in the election than much of the corporate boosterism that gets news coverage, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent manifesto claiming his platform can end fake news, stop terrorism, and determine election outcomes (without ever addressing FB’s role in creating that fake news).
Millennials are a crucial demographic who now make up the largest segment of voting age Americans. They have grown up as social media campaigning has emerged. Maki skillfully assesses the impact of social media use on their political engagement. She recounts the strategies used by each of the three major candidates in the primaries and the election as well as youth responses, particularly through the clever use of memes. She provides needed context about the rise of social media campaigning of Howard Dean and Barack Obama. The rise in fake news is then situated within its political context and as an outcome of social media “bubbles” that remain a pressing weakness of the platforms as news sources.
Written illustrated with concise wit and intelligence, Maki’s project is a must-read for understanding the historic 2016 election season.