Dave & Dujanovic: How do social media sites affect your vote?

Oct 16, 2020, 5:19 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2020, 9:49 am
Social media affect vote...
FILE - This combination of photos shows logos for social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter moved quickly this week to limit the spread of a disputed tabloid story promising new twists in the saga of Joe Biden’s relationship with Ukraine. President Donald Trump's campaign quickly seized on the story in the New York Post — but the report raised more questions than answers, including about the authenticity of an email at the center of the story. Wednesday morning Oct. 14, 2020, hours after the story's publication, a Facebook spokesman tweeted that the company was limiting its distribution on the platform.(AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)

SALT LAKE CITY — In recent years, more Americans have shifted their news consumption from traditional media — like TV, radio and newspapers — to digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram. How do platforms like social media sites affect your vote?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in April more than 3 billion people used Facebook, Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp in a single month.

With many Americans receiving live news updates from their social media sites, these platforms are becoming increasingly powerful political tools. As a result, political ads spending on digital media in 2020 has now topped $2.8 billion.

Overall, 72% of U.S. adults say social media companies have too much power and influence in politics today, according to a June 16-22 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. 

Also, 90% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP say it’s at least somewhat likely that social media platforms censor political viewpoints they find objectionable. That’s a slight increase from 85% in 2018, according to the Center.

Conservatives rule Facebook

Conservative political commentator and media host Ben Shapiro, 36, has more than 3.2 million Twitter followers and more than 7.5 million Facebook followers. At age 17, he became the youngest nationally-syndicated columnist in the United States.

The Daily Wire, which is run by Shapiro, was the top publisher on Facebook in July (the most recent month data is available), according to research shared by data firm NewsWhip.

The Daily Wire had nearly 99 million engagements for the month — about 8 million more engagements than CNN, the next closest news organization. (Engagement counts all likes, reactions, comments and shares that a post receives.)

Those figures easily blew past The New York Times, which garnered 61.5 million engagements, and The Washington Post, 43.6 million engagements, according to The Wrap.

“Who’s influencing your vote?” Dave asked. “Well if you’re on social media, it’s the conservatives.” 

Politics in Utah

Shapiro spoke to students at the University of Utah in September 2017.

Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, joined Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega Friday to discuss the impact social media sites place on voters.

“He was popular then, but now he’s the social media version of Rush Limbaugh,” Dave said.

“These kind of speakers, particularly right now, have power because it’s all about confirmation bias,” Perry said. “The people that are liking these particular people are being fed a constant diet of it. You look at social media; it knows what you like to eat. It just feeds you time and time again. I think that’s why you’re seeing polarizing figures on both sides getting huge followings.”

Debbie mentioned an article in Forbes published Oct. 7 that said Snapchat announced that it has helped more than 1.16 million young people register to vote in 2020.

In an interview with the Forbes, Sophia Gross, who is public policy manager for Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, said, “We have massive reach with Gen-Z users who are old enough to vote — in fact, of the 100 million users we reach in the U.S., 80% are 18+.”

Perry said registering a whole lot of young people to vote tends to help Democrats. But he pointed out the next step is the most important one:

“Do they turn in that ballot?” he said.

Welcome to the machine

Perry said social media is capitalizing on a moment in the United States where “families and others are at a breaking point.”

“When you look at what’s happened with the pandemic and the tentacles that go out into the economy,” Perry said. “I think what social media is capturing is this one point right here: As we have come to realize that the decisions for the most important things in our lives, our jobs, the ability for our family to eat, even if we can get a vaccine. Those decisions are all being made by someone else.”

Perry said, “Social media as you have talked about is capturing that fact, and they’re playing on some of the fears, some of the opportunities. That uncertainty, the sleeping giant that is awakened right now is what is feeding these machines, and these machines are trying to find those people.”

Conspiracy theory influencers

Debbie said she was concerned about the vast amount of money being spent on social media “but also random posts from friends of mine who really aren’t that educated but tend to be a little bit of conspiracy theorists and how they are posting, and I think that also is a potential to influence votes.”

“You are absolutely right, and it is,” Perry said. “And that is a way people try to get you to come to that side whatever it is. I can appreciate the fact that people are getting their meat from these places, they’re feeding on these conspiracies, but I’ll tell you what we’ve got to do, sometimes we’ve gotta eat the vegetables, too.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Super agers have been identified by researchers as men and women over age 80 that have the cognitiv...
Curt Gresseth

SuperAgers — who are they, are you one, and can you become one?

SuperAgers are men and women older than 80 with the mental faculties of people decades younger.
3 days ago
A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

After a significant snowfall in northern Utah, are you prepared for a winter emergency while on the roads? Wade Mathews of Utah Division of Emergency Management -- Be Ready Utah joins the shows to give out holidays tips on being prepared for any challenges while driving.
5 days ago
Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides. (Stock photo)...
Alejandro Lucero

Pass the stuffing not the uncomfortable conversation this Thanksgiving

Dave and Dujanovic spoke with an expert who will help you void the gobble-squabble around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
11 days ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
Curt Gresseth

‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub

A veteran joins the show to provide insight into the actions of another veteran who limited the loss of life at a Colorado nightclub by subduing the gunman until police arrived on scene.
12 days ago
Rioters at the US Capitol...
Curt Gresseth

Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data

A spokesman for a a libertarian think tank in Utah discusses why he supports a bill at the Legislature limiting law enforcement access to the cellphone of a person near a crime scene.
13 days ago
rollercoaster lagoon...
Curt Gresseth

Lagoon spokesman explains big price hike for day pass

Lagoon announces Primordial, a new one-of-a-kind interactive rollercoaster, coming in 2023, but with the new ride comes higher season passes.
16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Dave & Dujanovic: How do social media sites affect your vote?