Twitter and political participation

In the conclusion of their article on hacktivism and #wikileaks on Twitter, the authors Lindgren and Lundström write, “The fact that many people have a declining interest in traditional formal politics should not necessarily be interpreted as an indicator that there is an actual lack of political orientation or action in society at large…In today’s world, politics are emerging from new places” (1015). Considering that voter turnout in the US is considerably low it’s interesting how political involvement is being redefined in the twenty-first century. While the 18-24 year old age group generally has the lowest turnout, this is the age group that uses Twitter the most.

I remember in 2008 hearing about Obama progressiveness for using Twitter (among other things). Not coincidentally, I think, voter participation among 18-24 years olds increased in the 2008 presidential election. Now, it seems like using Twitter has become the norm for campaigning or keeping constituents updated. More than any other form of social media, Twitter is has become a platform for political discourses and social activism. As Lindgren and Lundström show with the #wikileaks example, Twitter creates a space for people to share knowledge and information through external links, promote their ideologies and call others to action.

The Twitter phenomenon and hacktivist political nature invites a number of interesting questions. How can the Twitter community put pressure on the government and along those same lines, how do representatives respond to the virtual presence and demands of the constituents? Will online participation translate to actual participation? The political discussions that Lindgren and Lundström’s study show that there is an interest in national politics, especially among an age group that has historically not been that involved. Although politics are being discussed in new places, will the pattern of declining interest in traditional forms of political expression–notably voting–be reversed?

Lindgren, Simon and Ragnar Lundström. “Pirate culture and hacktivist mobilization: The cultural and social protocols of #WikiLeaks on Twitter.” New Media & Society. 13.6: 2011. 999-1018. Web. 31 October 2013.


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