Political Engagement in the Digital Era

Political Engagement in the Digital Era

Do social media like Twitter and Facebook help or hinder civic engagement?

A new survey published by the Pew Research Center investigates political engagement in the US both on and offline. Not surprisingly, the survey has found a substantial increase in political engagement over the past few years. Not only has social media use increased, but the prevalence of its application to tap into niche audiences has also been explored by many–including politicians seeking office.

According to the survey:

  • 48% of American adults are personally engaged in a “civic group or activity”
  • 34% of American adults “contacted a government official or spoke out in a public forum” online
  • 39% of American adults engaged in “some sort of political activity” on a social networking site
  • 67% of young adults (aged 18 to 24) “engaged in some sort of social network-related political activity” in the last year

The survey also looks at the type of political engagement occuring online and finds that

  • 35% of American adults on social networks say they “encourage other to people to vote”
  • 33% of American adults on social networks say they have encouraged “others to take action on policital/social issues” important to them
  • 21% of American adults on social networks say they “belong to a group that is involved in political/social issues, or working to advance a cause”
  • 20% of American adults on social networks say they “follow elected officials, candidates for office or other public figures” online

We think social media is a great resource to connect people and share information and we know that social media is part of a larger ecosystem required to conduct meaningful consultations with the public. VP of Engagement Pierre Killeen has written more about social media and public participation here and click here for an example of a successful public consultation program.

 

Tell us what you think! Send us a note or leave a comment below.

Do you follow local politicians, public figures or organizations on Twitter and Facebook?

Do you share and engage with your connections about issues in your community?

Do you think social media like Twitter and Facbook help or hinder civic engagement?

 

 

Report

Smith, A. Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. April 25, 2013. Pew Eesearch Center. Accessed online at http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Civic-Engagement.aspx on April 29, 2013.

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