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The role of social media in politics- was twitter to blame for the recent congress riots?

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(Source- New York Times)
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The end of the beginning. The first few days of 2021 have been eventful, to say the least. As the pandemic presses on, countries have been forced to close borders, and as vaccines roll out across the world, it seems other news has been put on the back burner, until now.

American politics has been one of the most discussed topics ever since the election that saw Donald Trump lose against Joe Biden for the position of president of the United States of America. 

As Trump continues to make his leave from office an eventful one for all the world to see, refusing to leave the Whitehouse and refusing to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, it has developed a stir that no one predicted, until the president took to Twitter. 

Trump’s Twitter Downfall

In contrast to how Trump may have felt about technology, stating that he actually hates it, during his time in office he spent a lot of time on it. So much so that he has now been banned from many popular social media sites due to his actions and words which provoked his supporters which make up a huge percentage compared to Obama. 

The Capitol Building in Washington, DC, was swamped with rioters and protests following orders from Trump to take action. His supporters made their way into the building by bargaining and climbing walls following a rally that was organized on social media. He has been accused of inciting violence and is facing a second impeachment.

Hearing about the mayhem that had been caused due to Trump’s tweets, many social media sites eventually took action and banned Trump from posting on their sites. The riot has resulted in the death of 5 people, and so, many have questioned, after Trump repeatedly breaking social media rules throughout his presidency, why was he not censored or banned earlier?

Social media- The New Voice

Social media platforms have given each individual on the planet a voice of their own which can be heard by someone somewhere. This uniquely positioned technology which is available and easy to access on all smart devices has created a connected world. 

Through this connected world communities of like-minded people have formed. The danger of social media creates a space where people clash depending on opinions. Another bi-product of social media is that communities are able to come together and take action. For this reason, social media has been at the forefront of many protests and gatherings due to its thought altering nature. 

For years, the owners of these popular social media sites have understood how their platforms can be used as breeding grounds for dangerous and opposed actions. However, very little has been to monitor or even stop them. For this reason, it could be considered that social media plays a pivotal role in politics. Not only are presidents, prime ministers and leaders of the world using it, but they can also first hand see the effects of their actions and what their followers think of them.

There has been much speculation, going back to the U.S Capitol riots, that for many days leading up to the electoral college vote tally. Supporters of Trump were talking about violence. These comments included threats against elected officials and even police officers. 

However, even after Trump’s ban from social media sites, it still has not stopped his supporters from voicing their opinions. Conspiracy theories and false news, without the help of presidents and leaders constantly repeating them still spread like a virus online.

The fears of this include these theories tuning dark in corners of the web and dark web that have fewer regulations and questionable dealings. This will draw in the wrong types of crowd or even just draw people in who begin to believe these lies and corruption resulting in what was seen at the Capitol a few days ago. 

Of course, social media is not the sole cause of these riots, but it does play a big pivotal part in politics as a whole today. This is evident as every country uses social media. Due to these actions, Trump is facing impeachment, which is when a sitting president, like Trump, is charged with crimes. In the case of Trump, he is facing charges for encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol. 

Politics now seems even more complex, thanks to the role of social media and the ever-connected online world. Movements in politics reach people at greater speeds thanks to online media platforms and can be shared, liked and commented on almost instantly. And, although this has been great in aspects, as it has allowed technology to advance in so many different ways, the world is full of different people and online space can make it a dangerous breeding ground. 

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