Jenna Croymans was with Alice PR during the summer and went home to America recently where she continued to operate our state-side office! She has now returned to her studies and has left us with her parting thoughts on the up-coming presidential election and how social media is impacting on the decisions people make.

I think it is pretty obvious at this stage that the internet is now the most popular way to gather information. Be it searching for information on topics ranging from recipes to health remedies, and now, more than ever, who to vote for in the upcoming United States presidential elections.

Just like everything, using social media and the internet to determine your preferred presidential nominee has its ups and its downs. Its ups can be really insightful, while the downs may be detrimental.

Lets start with the positives. The internet has allowed young people who aren’t interested in listening to the six o’clock news, an opportunity to engage with the process and make informed decisions that will impact on their future.

Information on everything is available at tap of a keyboard and social media is over-flowing with information and opinion with Snapchat stories, news websites, Facebook videos and articles providing tonnes of information every minute of the day. While these resources are easily found, and can be engaging and informative, they might not always be valuable or event factually correct.

There have been reports that Google has altered its autocomplete algorithm to hide Hillary Clinton’s problems. Someone tested the theory by typing in “Hillary Clinton” into Google’s search engine, and then into Bing. The results from Google show things like “age, VP, website, twitter, memes,” while Bing shows “health, twitter, news, illness, emails, etc.”

In a 2014, it was reported that over half of millennials and gen x’ers use Facebook and the internet to gather their political information. With allegations against Google altering its SEO – this is concerning. It doesn’t matter which party you are leaning towards – the information you gather should be clear, accurate, and you shouldn’t be swayed to search one item over another.

In other news, the first US presidential and VP debates have been held, and there are certainly a few notes to take from this experience. First off, the absence of third party nominee Gary Johnson, was glaring. He was not allowed to attend the debate due to not having at least 15% in the polls, a rule that he and other third party members are not too pleased about.

Another thing to mention is that both candidates claimed to have “fact checkers” running throughout the debate – although only Hillary’s website actually provided facts.

trump_clinton

The debate went like any other, both candidates tried to answer questions, one did better than the other, there were eye rolls, cheers from the crowd, interruptions and tough questions – some of which went unanswered. But here’s what the media did; Snapchat was filled with stories with filters on both the candidates faces, Facebook videos showed multiple conspiracy theories, and the debate broke a record for “most tweeted debate”.

What does all this mean for you, reading this post right now? Well, you can’t believe everything you read online, without triple checking to make sure that what you’re reading is real. This means you need to source check every article and video that is read; and just one article will not cut it. Which begs the question, should you just go “old school” and read newspapers and more traditional media when it comes to making up your mind on who to vote for? Or would that mean you would be missing out on some of what is going on and therefore skewing your judgement too?

Either way, we have less than a month to knuckle-down and find the facts and inform ourselves. Whether it’s the US elections or a vote closer to home – make sure you to do the research before making a decision.

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