In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama established social media as an essential part of the campaign toolbox. Twitter, a widely-used social media site, provides a means of creating virtual communities that can instantly send messages and move "followers" to action. This thesis seeks to ascertain if Twitter messages—sent to known supporters by a presidential campaign asking a person to vote—can positively affect that person's likelihood to cast a ballot and, if so, would that vote be for the candidate whose campaign tweeted the message. Media ecology, as proposed by Marshall McLuhan and developed by Neil Postman, provides the primary theoretical framework for the study. Also referenced is the critical theory of Stanley Deetz, which examines words and language as a way to explain the exploitation of political power, and Stuart Hall's cultural theory, that explains how culture influences political activities. McCombs and Shaw's agenda setting theory is also applied as it describes how mass media influences what voters consider important in political campaigns. The literature review examines the use of Twitter in various political and social movements in countries such as Germany, Tunisia and Iran. Research for this thesis was conducted using an internet-based survey taken seven days prior to the 2012 election day. The survey reveals that Twitter messages asking supporters to vote have "little" to "no effect" on getting them to the polls, but for those that it did prompt to vote, respondents said they would vote for the candidate they supported because of the Twitter message. Further research is necessary to determine if Twitter, as one form of social media, is unique in yielding these results, and to determine why it does not have greater influence in encouraging voting.
|Advisor:||Caputo, John, Preble, Kipp|
|Department:||Communication and Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||MAI 51/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Communication, Information Technology, Political science|
|Keywords:||Agenda setting theory, Cultural studies, Media ecology, Social media, Twitter, Voting|
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