Some Americans enjoy the opportunities for political debate and engagement that social media facilitates, but many more express resignation, frustration over the tone and content of social platforms.
Overall, 16% of registered voters follow candidates for office, political parties, or elected officials on a social networking site.
President Obama's recent interviews with Buzzfeed and Vox, and his embrace of online news and social media more generally, stands in a long tradition of presidents employing novel communications technologies to speak to Americans directly.
Social media users who are interested in politics have different experiences on Facebook and Twitter, with four-in-ten Twitter users saying that at least half of the posts that they see are political, compared with about a quarter of Facebook users who say the same.
28% of registered voters use their cell phone to follow political news, and 16% follow political figures on social media.
The word “women” appeared more often than 30 other search terms in the Twitter discussion, followed by such domestic topics as education, jobs, healthcare reform and the economy.
The well-educated and the well-off are more likely than others to participate in civic life online – just as they have always been more likely to be active in politics and community affairs offline.
The growth of social media and rapid adoption of internet-enable mobile devices have changed the way Americans engage in the political process. An infographic provides a summary of the latest data from national surveys taken during the 2012 campaign.
Fully 22% of registered voters have told others how they voted on a social networking site, while 30% have been encouraged to vote for a candidate by family and friends and 20% have encouraged others to vote.
Some 66% of registered voters who use the internet—55% of all registered voters—have gone online this election season to watch videos related to the election campaign or political issues.