Politics and Social Media

The social media space is a place where people talk about everything. I have seen people talk about very intimate details on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. I have also seen people talk about issues and opinions that once used to be private, such as financial debt and infertility. I think that, especially with this being an election year, talk about politics is very hard to avoid. We live in a politically charged era so many people are going to social media to express their thoughts about favorite (and least favorite!) candidates.

I am no exception to this trend. While I try not to go overboard about politics, I do make political comments and send out political tweets from time to time. Sometimes people reply and other times my reflections simply get sent out to cyberspace. I enjoy political debate and occasionally engage in it online because I think that sharing ideas and having conversation is very important to informed voting.

A few days ago, I saw a photo in my Twitter stream that included a few hashtags, including a political hashtag that basically implied that this person was against a particular candidate. Attaching hashtags to the tweet meant that if anybody searched for the terms in the hashtags, the particular tweet would come up in search results. I thought that was clever and purposeful. To contribute to conversation, I sent a reply to the tweet and said that I thought that the photo was cute, even though I support the candidate that this person opposes. I, too, included a hashtag, which is common practice on Twitter.

The next time I checked my social networks, I saw that the person who originally posted the tweet had corresponded with me both via email and on my Facebook Timeline asking me to remove my tweet because she did not want to be associated with the particular candidate and did not want to be found in a hashtag search. I replied to the email but did not acknowledge the Facebook post. What transpired after that was, essentially, a heated conversation about free speech and branding.

I still maintain that very respectfully replying to political content with views of my own is completely legitimate. Likewise, I welcome (and expect) conversation when I post or publish political content. In my opinion, that is one of the beauties of a) the freedom of speech and b) the authenticity of social media.

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinions about politics and social media.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1132571257 Dave Hobley

    I totally agree with you! It is really nice when people can engage in intelligent conversation on the political subjects without getting heated and nasty!
    Thanks for sharing this nice article!

  • http://www.adjuvancy.com/wordpress Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    Politics is as viable a topic as any other on social media. I do try to keep Politics off my blog- not because I worry that you may not agree with them, but because that is not the purpose of my blog.  Small p politics do find their way- it is difficult to describe economic conditions or advocate positions without employing them.

  • http://ideagirlmedia.com/ Keri at Idea Girl Media

    Lauren,

    I too write on politics and social media, and have developed social presence for political candidates.  I was actually trying to keep things light when I wrote about how Porn could help politics in 2012…

    My views are quite similar to yours.  No one has the right to tell anyone to retract a comment expressing their point about politics of any kind — As long as it’s respectful.  The same goes for replies.  The key is in realizing that we can all co-exist.

    Thanks for sharing,

    ~Keri

  • Mullenann4

    I think freedom of the press means that if we do things of a political nature, we should be willing to take the consequences of whatever media we use to express our views. #s mean that people could wind up looking like they are for or against in ways they did not intend. It is the nature of Twitter. Right, Lauren?

  • stranger

    Hi Lauren. Would you believe that people who adamantly profess in public on social media their strong political leanings and their belief in freedom of speech would flag another’s posts anonymously when they do the same (only from a differing viewpoint)? It’s gotten very personal and I suspect it’s connected to local affiliations that they are working for. At first, I decided to pursue it tit-for-tat, but now I believe I may be messing with something far more serious, like the town heavies. I think there can be danger in talking politics online.

  • http://twitter.com/JDRunner34 Joe Duran

    Great post Lauren. We live in a world where “water cooler” conversation is no longer limited to, well, the water cooler. That being said, old rules still apply. If you can dish out the commentary, unless you set comment restrictions on what appears on your feed, expect a response. And unlike the water cooler, can always delete what appears on your timeline.

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