Does Social Media Affect Public Policy Outcomes? - eMarketer

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Does Social Media Affect Public Policy Outcomes?

Most Americans say yes

March 28, 2017

In an era when President Trump’s favored communication channel is Twitter, nearly eight in 10 US internet users believe social media has at least some effect on public policy outcomes such as immigration and trade.

Effect that Social Media Can Have on Public Policy According to US Internet Users, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

Those findings come from a January 2017 report from strategy communications firm Finn Partners, which polled 1,000 US adult internet users.

In all, just 15% of respondents said that social channels like Twitter and Facebook have no effect on public policy.

By contrast, roughly a third of internet users said it has a significant impact on policy outcomes, and another 49% said it has some impact.

eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson was not surprised by the findings. “It’s no secret that social media is influential in many ways, from helping people decide where to go on a vacation to giving them a window into the issues their friends are discussing,” she said.

When it comes to keeping the public informed on policy issues, Americans are somewhat split on whether they believe social media has a positive or negative effect on individuals, according to Finn Partners.

For example, while 46% of internet users said social media has at least some positive impact on individuals, 32% said it has at least some negative impact.

Eleven percent of respondents weren’t sure.

Social media platforms are aware of their effect on public perception and are responding to it. Facebook’s new Town Hall feature, “which links users to their local elected officials and sends reminders about upcoming elections, is only the latest example of how social media can impact public policy,” Williamson said.

Rimma Kats

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