The recent 2016 election has been extremely different compared to past elections, mainly because of the emergence of the popular app, Snapchat. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made an extreme impact on the American community in extravagant ways through their Snapchat presence. Snapchat has trumped Twitter this presidential campaign and candidates have focused on their Snapchat presence more than ever. Snapchat has added a whole new platform for candidates to campaign, which has kept young voters interested and eager to share their personal opinions. Though younger voters have been interested with the debate conversation on their Snapchat feeds, they are also being extremely distracted from the actual topics up for debate. Distractions can start with various filters and different icons that can be added to pictures or videos taken with the Snapchat app. Users can also follow different celebrities or popular magazine companies affiliated with Snapchat, which can influence their ideas. So the question is, is Snapchat keeping younger voters engaged for the upcoming election or more distracted?
Snapchat is not only a spot where presidents can campaign, it is also a place where supporters can share their opinions and debate certain subjects. Young voters are constantly on their various social media platforms, which allow them to engage in hot topics that are being discussed. Through trending videos and hashtags users are constantly bombarded with presidential election topics all day and night. “Snapchat could have a clear advantage in targeting younger voters, and could let candidates pay to show political campaigns to its users”(Kia). Since young users are on Snapchat daily, Snapchat is allowing them to engage with the individual presidential candidates and hear them first hand. “Campaign managers upload videos or photos into their candidate’s personal “story”, which lasts 24 hours before disappearing. Text, emojis, drawings or filters can be added, creating mini films and photo galleries of life and events on the trail, a backstage pass never previously on offer”(Jamieson).The different campaigns are able to tailor their ideas to their viewers to attract young voters and engage young voters into the conversation. Snapchat also allows young voters to post to special pop up Snapchat sponsored stories that can be seen by users all of over the world. This feature offers opportunities for users to share videos and pictures that could potentially be seen by users beyond their friend circle at specific political events.
Though Snapchat allows for users to engage in political issues, it can also be extremely distracting to the issues being presented. Many users are aware that Snapchat allows different types of filters such as turning ones face into a deer or altering a voice to be higher pitch. These types of filters were and are extremely popular for users while they watch debates on their computers or televisions. Although these debates are meant to be listened to by users, Snapchat spins the debates into a fun activity, mocking candidates through filters. This ultimately distracts viewers of the actual topics being debating for presidency. “The use of Snapchat filters, however, adds a new dimension to the viewing experience. Over the course of the night, users found infinite amusement in Donald Trump wearing a flower crown, or Hillary Clinton sporting bunny ears” (Freisleben). Snapchat users’ feeds were flooded with debate content after every presidential debate this past 2016, influencing them to act any which way. Some chose to engage seriously in the conversation while others decided to use Snapchat features to mock the debate at hand.
Jamieson, Amber. “The First Snapchat Election: How Bernie and Hillary Are Targeting the Youth Vote.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016, http://bit.ly/1UVkLvv
Kia, Kokalitcheva. “Snapchat’s Secret To Winning The 2016 Election.” Time. Time, 24 June 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2016, http://ti.me/1QQFjmX
Freisleben, Shayna. “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton through the Eyes of Snapchat Users.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016, http://cbsn.ws/2eCwPno
University of Vermont
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Rob Williams, Ph.D., University of Vermont Professor of Media/Communication.