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Opinion Column: Social media proved reliable this election cycle

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="894"]blogtrepreneur.com/smi Photo via Flickr/ Blogtrepreneur[/caption] For a while now, millennials have turned to social media for discussion and information. This was no exception during the 2016 presidential election. A millennial myself, I too turned to the likes of Twitter and Facebook for information. I don’t have the funds for a newspaper subscription and my apartment lacks cable television, so I followed and caught the highlights from major news outlets on social media. While many may view social media in a negative light, I see it as a positive tool. I stray away from unreliable resources and figure out what’s a social media rumor compared to what’s factual information. I can read news and social media posts, and become informed almost instantly at the tips of my fingers. I’m lucky to have social media as a resource that is so readily available. My habits in keeping up with the election were not different compared to many millennials’ nationwide. According to CBS News, more than one-third of millennials under the age of 30 said that social media was their most helpful source during this long campaign cycle. I resorted to social media for information and engaged in the content through liking and sharing posts while not thoroughly learning about, or even touching on, the topic of the election in my classes at Seton Hall. Social media gave me the beneficial opportunity to have my voice heard in the midst of the presidential election — an advantage not all have in the classroom. These online platforms gave me the chance to stand firm in my beliefs, while also being susceptible to opinions that differed from mine. I am always willing to learn and be receptive to various points of view. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, exposure to the range of new ideas and viewpoints social media users encounter may cause them to change their minds about issues or candidates. The study reported, “20 percent of social media users say they’ve modified their stance on a social or political issue because of material they saw on social media, and 17 percent say social media has helped to change their views about a specific political candidate.” Millennials like myself are influenced and may have changed their views because of print newspapers’ content on social media. Many Seton Hall students engaged in an open discussion through The Setonian’s political coverage. The Setonian’s presidential endorsement two weeks ago reached 13,825 Facebook users and sparked discussion in the comment section. It was a space where readers could share their own opinion and become informed by other points of view. Social media continues to be a strong force in the political sphere, especially when it comes to millennials like me who are dependent on the online platforms’ political coverage. Leah Carton is a public relations major from Keyport, N.J. She can be reached at leah.carton@student.shu.edu.

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