When reading about Barack Obama’s 2008 Campaign, I was initially impressed by the use of new media, who wouldn’t be? The Campaign is considered one of a kind, or at least the first of it’s kind to be successful, in terms of reaching supporters and voters through social and new media. But, I was also weary about how new media can be manipulated and shaped to influence opinions.
In Daniel Kreiss’ article, Acting in the networked public sphere: the Obama campaign’s strategic use of new media to shape narratives of the 2008 presidential race, the following passage struck me: “As the discussion below reveals, this work entailed everything from releasing the candidate’s birth certificate online to promoting content that made it look like Hillary Clinton’s supporters were generating racist attacks on Obama” (P. 10). This sentence was more compelling to me than any other part of the article. It shows underlying aspects of political campaigns: no matter how well a campaign embraces technologies and adapts to the changes of the social sphere, there is always an ugly side. Through old technologies, when there were attacks on other candidates, it was relatively easy to trace where the content originated. In my opinion the Internet has allowed campaigns to launch attacks on other candidates without consequences since they are able to cover their tracks. Furthermore, it has taken attacks to a new low. In my opinion, it is extremely poor to spread rumors of racist attacks in order to get ahead.
This reminded me of Morozov’s argument that the Internet could be used to distract users from the real problems and issues surrounding politics and democracy. While I don’t think US campaigns today are trying to distract the users from engaging in political activity, I do believe the Internet can be manipulated to the candidate’s advantage in order to make opponents look bad without taking responsibility for the attack. This is dangerous because once a rumor or idea gets started on the Internet it can have a snowball effect; eventually users won’t know where it started. Do you think it is a problem that campaign personal can manipulate search results, videos, and content in order to frame their candidate favorable? Or is it just part of politics?