Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pay attention to social media - a must in this presidential election- September 2, 2016

When my employer and I decided to relocate me from California to Virginia in 1999, the owner of the company said, “I wonder if you’ll become politically passionate like everyone else we’ve moved back there.”

There is something about this area that infected me. While I’m not passionate, my interest in the process has increased.

In the midst of a presidential election cycle, we all find ourselves a bit more caught up than usual. There are online tools to help us follow the elections.

More and more, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are conversing with voters via social media.

I have followed the tweets coming from the various candidates through the primaries and now into the general election. I use Twitter’s Tweetdeck product. It allows me to have columns of related sources together.

I created a Twitter list of candidates and another of news sources. While I don’t read all the tweets, a quick glance gives me an idea of the ongoing conversation Clinton and Trump are having with the voting public.

Recently it was discovered the Trump campaign put out some of the campaign’s tweets, while Trump did some of the tweeting himself. David Robinson, a data scientist, noted that some of the tweets came from an iPhone or Twitter’s web client, while others came from an Android.

Robinson noted that the tweets coming from the Android client seemed more “real” and more entertaining and less like what a campaign staff would put out. Soon after this report came out and about the time the Trump campaign got new leadership, the tweets stopped coming from the Android client.

Each campaign has its own Facebook pages too. Even if you have already made up your mind, it is good to follow the tweets of both campaigns and like the pages of both.


Don’t judge a friend because Facebook tells you the friend likes a candidate's page. Conscientious voters gather information on all the candidates, not just their preferred choice.

Campaigns live and die by polls. There are sites that help those of us not well versed in statistical theory understand what polls are telling us.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has been amazingly prescient in predicting the outcome of the last three senate races and the last two residential races. His site shows the polls only results, and a poll-plus result that takes factors like economics and history into account. The site shows not only current data but past data. And the Electoral College map can zoom in to see recent polls on a state-by-state basis.

Another good analysis site comes out the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball tracks polls and helps us to understand them.

Then there is a multitude of news sources available to us. One has to be careful to find our news from a variety of sites. While the professional news organizations – the major TV news services and leading newspapers – strive for objectivity, limiting ourselves to one or even a few can skew the balance of news we receive.

With so many news sources to choose, we have to be careful we do not construct our own echo chamber. If all you hear from your news source reinforce your already held beliefs, how do you know you are getting both sides of a story? Include news sources that challenge, maybe even enrage you on a daily basis.

New Sources

Memeorandum, a new consolidation site

Likewise, services like Google Now that watches what you read and gives you more stories like those in the future, can accidentally construct a filter bubble for you so you only see stories slanted like ones you have previously read.

A lot of things get said and reported during campaigns and good voters are skeptical of everyone’s statements. There are a lot of tools out there to help voters fact check candidates such as a Google search or Youtube videos of recent speeches. And there are fact-checking sites like, Politicafact, and others.

If you notice a trend on one of your sites constantly reporting stories debunked by the fact-checking site or continuing to report stories shown to be false, you should consider removing that news source from your regularly read news feeds.

Critical thinking is our best political tool.

In years past, the link post for this column probably has the most resources of any column in the seven-year history of Family Tech. I have included sites on polling, social media, campaign web sites, fact checking and campaign contribution tracking.

Voting competently is one of our greatest responsibilities we have as Americans. And no matter where you are on the political spectrum, we all agree this is one of the most unique presidential races in our history. Let’s watch it closely, apply critical thinking and vote Nov. 8.

Voter registration ends on Oct. 17 in Virginia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.