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The 2016 U.S. election that took place on Tuesday, November 11th is an unforgettable date for all American citizens. This election put the whole world in chaos on social media as to whether Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump were going to take the victory. Donald trump astonishingly won the presidential election and left the entire world in bewilderment. Social media is a central tool when it comes to connecting and communicating with people around the world. Through social media platforms like Facebook and twitter people are able to share information with each other, and keep up-to-date with trending global topics of discussion; for example, the American election was a predominant topic of discussion between Facebook and twitter users.
Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election only because of the prodigious influence he had on social media platforms during the election. What’s worse, is that even after all the nonsense that came out of his mouth during the presidential campaigns majority of Americans still voted for the most incompetent, racist, and sexist president in the history of the American election.
A unique unusual influence Donald Trump had on social media during the election is that he admirably framed himself; framing is when the media acts as a gatekeeper and focuses most of its attention on particular events, ideas, and topics they cover (Ferguson 123). The news media have always been vital to keeping the public informed, and shaping the public’s opinion regarding important events and topics; for example keeping the public informed during the U.
S. presidential election especially through social media (Bowen 114). Though during the election Donald Trump took up the role of the media in framing himself and led media campaigns targeted against the media, fighting the media on an individual level and mocking reporters by name. For example when Trump began a twitter war with Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly by verbally attacking her on twitter after she asked a question that was directed to him on the news saying “you’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” (Megan Kelly). This twitter war raised concerns of feminism between feminists and Trump on social media. Because feminists believe that there should be intellectual, social, and political equality between men and women, however, trump was violating these rights, by disrespecting and degrading women through his twitter posts. This twitter war, in turn, benefited Trump’s election campaign because it popularized his framing of the self in an unexpected way since he became the topic of discussion on all feminist websites.
Also, since Trump did not have his own news network, he created virtual networks for himself through social media platforms like Facebook and twitter. He framed himself in an entertaining way instead of a presidential way; by doing this he made himself the biggest news in America since 9/11(Shafer). As a result, this domination of the press by trump made it impossible for the media to frame raising concerns on the election effectively.
Zines are well known for picking up many social activities, especially about trending topics; they are defined as “non-commercial, amateur texts that have been picked up by various social movements as the perfect channels for communication and creativity” (Ratto, Boler, and Deibert 101). For example, the “Highbinder zine” on Facebook was a very good channel for Facebook users around the world to popularize Trumps self-framing on social media even more by constantly talking about his campaign. Also by the time the media was trying to frame Trump as being an incompetent and unprofessional candidate, it was too late; because Trump’s loyal followers were disregarding and not acknowledging the negative stories that the media were reporting about him (Shafer).
Additionally, another reason as to why Trump won the election was because of social media platforms like Facebook and twitter, because they helped him popularize his views even more. As much as Facebook is recognized as one of the leading social media networking websites which enables people to keep in touch with their friends and family online. According to Abhinav Sharma a former Facebook employee, Facebook is also perceived as a quora (question or answer site) a website where people share information with each other, where compelling questions get answered by a spectrum of people with unique perceptions. According to Ratto, Boler, and Deibert, the number of people using Facebook on their electronic devices is more than 250 million, also that “ Facebook’s 750 million users would constitute the world’s third largest country”(307).
During the election campaign, Facebook and twitter were convenient platforms for Trump, mainly because it was the best place for him to reach like-minded people that agreed with him and supported his views, as well as voice their opinions on his presidential campaign. Also that Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton’s campaign expanded the influence of social media past the people who usually use it. Sharing and retweeting posts on Facebook and twitter increased the popularity of the election campaign posts, which in turn influenced a wider audience than usual. For example, the videos and memes that were being shared around, especially when Donald Trump said he was going to build a wall between the U.S and Mexico if he became president. According to Solis regarding the election, the majority of American citizens were not comporting themselves like responsible adults online, and not looking out for the future of their country because their online behavior was extremely egotistical.
Furthermore, another reason as to why Trump won the election was because of fake news that kept on circulating Facebook. The aim of fake news is to misinform, trick, and to create deception on social media, its main objective is to mislead and manipulate reader’s social intelligence. For example, during the election campaign, the fake news was going around on Facebook and twitter about Donald Trump paying someone $3,500USD to protest at one of his rallies in fountain hill (Rustling). The main reason as to why this news was instantly believed by Trump followers is because they do not fact-check anything they read or hear about Donald trump on social media, and in turn end up giving the deceptive news stories more media attention, than real news (Rustling). Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager also retweeted the false news, which made the story more factual for Trump’s followers. Additionally, Russian propaganda campaigns also helped in flooding social media with fake news; because they personally created deceptive articles online in order to punish the Democrat party Hillary Clinton, with the aim of helping Donald Trump even more (Timberg).
However, trump followers would argue that the reasons to why Donald Trump won the election were because he has more to give to the nation than Hilary Clinton ever will. Because they perceive Trump as a leader that is honest and speaks his mind on matters regarding America, even though not everyone may agree with everything he says. Also that unlike some past American presidents Trump cannot be bribed, because of his powerful character that is impeccably suited for politics (“25 Reasons Why Donald Trump Will Make the Best President, Ever”). As well that Trump is the most suitable candidate to change and better issues regarding crime, health care, and education in America.
It is a shame that social media has such an enormous impact on an individual’s decision to such a point that it influences their choices. Especially because Donald Trump only won the election because the majority of American citizens who voted for him had no absolute idea that social media played with their ignorance and influenced their voting decision. Through trumps framing of the self, excessive exposure of Trump memes and online behavior on social media platforms like Facebook and twitter, and fake news that flooded social media. Which all resulted in his victory of being elected president due to his exceptional online popularity.
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