Facebook and Twitter Seen as Influencers in Presidential Election

Both platforms enabled people to connected with their leaders at all times

f1Donald Trump’s unprecedented win to emerge as the U.S. President-elect on November 9th, 2016, has indeed stunned the world at large, even after polls showed that Hillary Clinton would be the potential winner. Social media websites, especially Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and microblogging site Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), are seen to have played an important role in acting as the platforms of choice for people to establish a connect with their leaders, engage in the political process, and share their views online, as reported by Bloomberg on November 9th, 2016. Both these social media platforms played a huge role as influencers in the dissemination of news during the entire election campaign, making it the first presidential election in which the majority of the electorate got most of their news and campaign updates from the social media.

Facebook newsfeeds – boon or bane

Over the past few months, Facebook was widely used as a sought after news filter by almost 44% of American adults. Through the social media platform, both presidential candidates were able to get across influential messages across to the people without the restriction of filtering information that is generally seen on news websites. On the other hand, people have debated Facebook’s role as an influencer, saying that company’s news feed was responsible for fueling biased and sometimes false stories, as compared to newsfeeds from responsible news organizations. Facebook said that it mainly relies on its user community to report false content.

On its part, Facebook, which has been analyzing its effect on news consumption, has defended its stance saying that it is working to de-emphasize news and media posts in favor of posts from friends and family. Facebook says it would like to be known as a technology company rather than a media company, while intensifying its analysis of its role in creating an echo chamber and spreading fake news. The social media network has instead highlighted its efforts with Internet.org, in which it has connected 40 million people so far in 2016, up from 15 million a year ago. Facebook’s “Register to Vote” link helped more than 2 million people register to vote, some of them for the first time.

f2Twitter wields mighty influence

Twitter, which has been the subject of numerous takeover and acquisition speculations over the last few months, is seen to undeniably wield some amount of power and influence among social media startups even with its relatively small base of active users. Twitter has been improving its premium live-streaming video experience and has signed more than a dozen live streaming video partnerships since June 2016, many of which have already started streaming content on a daily or weekly basis. Twitter has been entering into several partnerships for sports, politics and entertainment content, which it can stream alongside tweets related to the video.

Twitter’s live streams of the U.S. presidential debates were also very successful. The second and third debates averaged a reach of 3.3 million unique viewers, an increase of more than 30% over the first presidential debate. In total, the debates generated an average of almost 3 billion Tweet impressions, with the second debate generating a record of 16 million debate-related Tweets sent, making it the most Tweeted debate ever. CEO Jack Dorsey has defined one of the company’s missions as being the “people’s news network”.

f3During the presidential election process, Twitter gave presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a platform to constantly reach out to people in an unprecedented manner without the need for an editorial interface. Trump, with almost 14 million followers on the site, would often start his own news cycles as a means to reach out to the masses. On November 9th, 2016, Twitter’s shares jumped 4.1% boosted by investor recognition of its role in the election outcome. On the other hand, Twitter was unable to effectively address user abuse on its platform, especially from racist Trump supporters. These trolls, not officially endorsed by the campaign, would regularly attack Trump’s critics, in many cases causing Twitter users to feel unsafe.

With the presidential election drawing to a close, it remains to be seen if Facebook and Twitter learn from their past experiences and engage with their audiences in a responsible manner.

Stock Performance

f4Facebook’s stock stood at $119.02, slipping 1.47%, at the close on Friday, November 11th, 2016, having vacillated between an intraday high of $120.70 and a low of $118.15 during the session. The stock’s trading volume was at 32,809,285 for the day. The Company’s market cap was at $349.79 billion as of Friday’s close.

f5Twitter’s stock stood at $18.55, gaining 0.98%, at the close on Friday, November 11th, 2016, having vacillated between an intraday high of $18.73 and a low of $18.07 during the session. The stock’s trading volume was at 15,337,793 for the day. The Company’s market cap was at $13.81 billion as of Friday’s close.

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