Social media has become a driving force in today’s society, with people all over the world logging into social media accounts on a daily basis. As the different platforms have grown in popularity, so has the amount of information that has become available, making social media one of the biggest sources for news.

According to a study from Pew Research Center, 35% of respondents between 18 and 29 disclosed that social media was the most useful source of information during the 2016 election. The information that someone discovers on social media likely influences their viewpoints in everything from sports teams to hobbies. As a result, social media will heavily influence different areas of society, including politics. Yuri Vanetik examines different ways that social media affects voting Americans.

Fake News and Conspiracies
The term fake news has taken on a new and explosive meaning with the 2016 elections, and has only continued to become more common. For example, there are websites like the Onion, that have only post false news posts. People that have never interacted with these types of websites may take the information as true and share it among their social media platforms. This influences your followers on your social media platform, even if the content is inaccurate.

In addition, most news organizations write based on the viewpoint that the organization as a whole has. For example, stories on CNN will tend to lead more liberal, while Fox News leans more on the conservative side. The viewpoint of the outlet will also significantly influence the type of news stories that are released, making it difficult to avoid any bias in the articles.

Friends and Followers Share Similar Viewpoints
The purpose of social media is to allow users stay in contact with friends and family around the world, meaning that many people’s core followers will be friends or family. What makes this an important idea to understand is that, in many cases, a person’s friends and family share incredibly similar viewpoints.

The person will consistently be exposed to news stories and updates that more closely reflect his viewpoints, without examining the other side of the matter. This can decrease a person from receiving a bias-free, well-rounded picture of a news story. What began as an efficient way to stay in contact with friends and family has become a revolving door of information for its users.

Following different news outlets with conflicting viewpoints, conducting research outside of social media, and engaging in conversations with people of different viewpoints are all ways to maintain a well-rounded understanding of politics.