Social Media's Impact on Election 2012

By KBJR News 1

November 8, 2012 Updated Nov 8, 2012 at 6:44 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Election night 2012 made history. No, not because of any one candidate or issue, but because of social media.

"If you were looking at twitter in real time at the feed if you had the election hash tag, I mean there was literally 90 to 100 posts per second with people talking about it," said Mike Malone, the social media director for Swim Creative.

Those posts added up to 20 million tweets on Tuesday about Elections. On Facebook more than 9 million voters shared their civic duty with friends. But experts say being social about politics only goes so far.

"I think it didn't necessarily sway votes either way," Malone said. "It did a lot to organize base, organize people who are following them, organize rallies, get people to share information as far as getting new voters with social media advertising I really don't think that was a huge part in this."

And then there's separating fact from fiction, a job for Duluth News Tribune's Jimmy Bellamy.

"You're seeing information come up that you don't know is accurate, necessarily," said Bellamy. "With twitter you need to sift through more weeds than usual."

One of biggest errors according to Pointer Institute was a rumor on Twitter claiming NBC declared Elizabeth Warren the winner in the Massachusetts Senate race, before she actually won.

"It does influence what candidates are doing, what news organizations are doing," Bellamy said.

If you needed any influence you only had to look as far as your feeds. You no doubt saw plenty of "I voted" stickers, opinions and in some cases pictures of completed ballots. Which in some states, including Minnesota, could be considered illegal.

The law states you can't show your ballot to anyone else, however it doesn't cover social media.

204C.17 VOTING; SECRECY.
Except as authorized by section 204C.15, a voter shall not reveal to anyone in the polling place the name of any candidate for whom the voter intends to vote or has voted. A voter shall not ask for or receive assistance in the marking of a ballot from anyone within the polling place except as authorized by section 204C.15. If a voter, after marking a ballot, shows it to anyone except as authorized by law, the election judges shall refuse to deposit the ballot in any ballot box and shall place it among the spoiled ballots. Unless the showing of the ballot was clearly intentional, the voter shall receive another ballot as provided in section 204C.13, subdivision 3, clause (d).

State Senator Roger Reinert (DFL - Duluth) was one of the many who posted a portion of their ballot on Facebook.

"You do have the issues of if you're going to influence other people while balloting is taking place, frankly we're influencing other people all the time with any other post you make on Facebook it's become such a powerful tool," Sen. Reinert said.

A powerful tool that continues to grow in the world of politics.

"Candidates and politicians are aware of that, some utilize it better than others, but it has shaped the way things are," Bellamy said.

While social media is important leading up Elections and on Election day, it's also important after the fact.

One expert pointed out Mitt Romney has been absent from Twitter following his defeat.

Kevin Jacobsen
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