The Digital Divide and Social Media Content

In a study about political campaigns and their use of social media, Hernson, Stokes-Brown, and Hindman begin by tracing the origins of new technology in campaigns. They explain Howard Dean’s smoke-and-mirror use of technology that eventually exposed his shortcomings as well as the initial uses of “brochureware” and sites like Meetup.com. They also detail the concept of the digital divide; that is, the gap in access to computers and technology among segments of the population. They then expand and identify the second and third-level digital divides: the gap between skilled and unskilled Internet users and the gap between politically engaged and indifferent users. Their study reaches several conclusions about Internet use across races, education, socio-economic statuses, and age.
One conclusion that this study comes to is that the strategic use of social media is more important than the composition of the constituency and the digital division between users. This bolsters what Allison Slotnick explains in her article “‘Friend’ the President.” She says that the content of a candidates Facebook page is more important than who follows them. If the candidate appears in a more personal, laid-back light, they have a bigger impact than if they were to use a formal, more professional approach. Do you think that there is rhyme and reason to what candidates put on their social media pages? Or do you think there is little strategy in updating a apolitical Facebook or Twitter page?

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