Stanford researcher talks Twitter and politics at Lawrence University

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Social media has changed the discourse of not only how we communicate with each other, but it’s changed our political climate as well.

With each passing year experts who study social media and its effects say we should pay more attention to how our leaders are using these platforms.

Megan Metzger, a Stanford University global digital policy incubator, says Twitter in particular has become inundated with news, especially political news and despite what we think we’re influenced by what we read.

“We all are influenced by politics even if we’re not people who care a lot about politics, even if it’s not part of our day-to-day lives, what happens in politics impacts us,” says Metzger. “When things are changing how that happens I think that ordinary people should care about it.”

Thursday one of two former Twitter employees landed behind bars, accused of espionage.

The FBI says they leaked private data to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family, one example of how the media platform is used to communicate with political leaders – legal or not.

“We’ve seen states not only in this country, but around the world trying to affect the information that people get in other countries, we also have seen politicians using social media in new and important ways,” says Metzger. “We are also getting this through the way we communicate and understand the politicians that we vote for, that represent us, that also is sometimes happening on social media.”

She uses President Trump as an example, someone who has not shied away from being candid on the site.

“In one sense it makes him more accessible, I think people feel that they can get a more casual type of communication from him and I think that people like that,” says Metzger.

In the end Metzger says online media is something to keep an eye on.

Its users can determine positive outcomes for the world we live in.

“What do we want the rules to be and how are we going to balance that with ensuring that we protect our rights to free expression and all of those things that are really central to the United States and human rights globally.”

To take a look at more of what Metzger studies click here.

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