Day 7 Reflections

This week in seminar, we discussed the Internet and its implications on the upcoming election and prior elections as well. From the readings, the first thing that surprised me was how much power Facebook has compared to its user. Facebook can basically control your entire newsfeed whenever it wants, and therefore can have a huge impact on the elections. Facebook has all the power in this situation, while you have no power to control what is on your newsfeed. Let’s say in the weeks before the election, Facebook filters your newsfeed to show you all anti-Clinton posts, and anti-Clinton shares from your friends. By the mere-exposure effect (a little psych terminology), you will see Clinton in a poorer light, and to some people this could convince them to change their vote. This is only the beginning of the power that Facebook can have on voting. Additionally, Facebook can convince non-politically active individuals to vote by including an “I voted” or “I’m voting” button on your Facebook feed.  One study had this to say on the impact of Facebook: “It is possible,” the Facebook team wrote in Nature, “that more of the 0.6 percent growth in turnout between 2006 and 2010 might have been caused by a single message on Facebook.” By barely putting something on Facebook, it is possible that voter turn out grew by 0.6%. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but let’s say Facebook actively tried to increase voter turn out, and used a lot of their resources to influence their users to vote.

How big a difference could they make?

Some questions to ponder:

What other social media platforms increase voter turnout? What effect does snapchat have on voter turnout? Does social media even effect voter turnout?

Feel free to answer in the comments!!!

Another aspect of our conversation that I found interesting was the prospect of voting moving online. There are definitely pros and cons for this movement. To begin, one huge benefit of online voting would be how easy it is to count the votes, and for people to vote. I think it would also increase voter turnout if you could simply vote from your smart phone. But would it be beneficial for those who really are uninterested and uneducated about the election to cast a vote? That starts another conversation of should voting be mandatory, which is a conversation for another time and place. Lastly, it would be much easier to analyze the voting data if it was done online. Trends would be easier to see, and much more data on the elections would become available if voting was done online.

However, I still believe that online voting would never be secure enough, and would ruin the voting experience. For me, voting was such a thrill when I went to the polling station, and was able to cast my vote by hand. It truly made me feel accomplished and that my vote counted. If it was just a simple tap of a button on a smart phone, would people take it as seriously? Additionally, the lack of security with online elections is frightening. Hackers all over the country and all over the world would spend years targeting this online voting system, and in my opinion one way or another would hack the system and rig our elections. It is too risky unless someone develops the PERFECT, PERFECT model. To me, all voting should be done by hand at polling stations!!!! That is how it should be!

I hope you enjoyed this weeks version of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. Stay tuned for next week.


Brady is too good!!!!

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