Friday, October 14, 2016

Tracking the presidential election with social media

With just weeks until the 2016 Elections in the U.S. it is clear that this cycle has become the social media-driven elections.

No matter who you support, who you despise or who you wish would just "be quiet" there is an endless supply of Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images and YouTube videos to variously inform, annoy or enrage. How to make sense of it all? 

First, decide if social media can help you stay informed. If the answer is "no" you can just stop here. But if the answer is "yes" then here are a few suggestions: 

Follow a popular hashtag or hashtags: Some popular hashtags this election season include #election2016, #debates, #debates2016, #trump, #clinton, #donaldtrump, #hillary, #vote, #nevertrump, #hillaryemails
Explore some new hashtags: There’s an exhaustive list of hashtags (Warning: some are NSFW) on the website.
Create a Twitter list: This is simply a way organizing the Twitter "firehose" so that it is more manageable. In other words by viewing a list you are only seeing the tweets of the people you place on that list and not all of the people you follow on Twitter. (For more how to create a list see Using Twitter lists from Twitter). Who should be on your list? A good place to start is adding the Twitter accounts of the candidates, their proxies and their official campaigns. After that add people you think are informative and helpful.

Like the pages of all the major candidates: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson
Like the pages of the political parties: Green, Libertarian, Independents, Democrat and Republican. • Use the filtering functions of Socialfixer to exclude certain kinds of posts. Although this article from ZDNet talks about using Socialfixer eliminating all political debate from your Facebook feed, the same principles can be applied to cut down on certain types of content in your feed. See How to filter politically sanctimonious Facebook posts from your news feed
• Use the USA Today/Facebook Barometer to gauge which candidates are doing better or worse based on Facebook activity (likes, shares, mentions).

• Follow the Instagram accounts of … Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein
• Subscribe to the YouTube accounts of … Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 

I hope this is an useful primer. Please feel free to post other social media tips around the elections in the comments.

Related posts:
Fact-checking the presidential election - from social media claims to debate points
Social Media and Politics Makes for Odd Bedfellows

Updated: Fact-checking the presidential election - from social media claims to debate points

Updated to include Google's addition of a "Fact Check" category in Google News search results. See "Update" at the end of this post.

This 2016 election season in the United States has been like no other for a couple of reasons. 

It has two leading presidential candidates comfortable using social media with hordes of rabid followers tearing up the social media channels with claims real and, well, a lot less so.
Fact or Not? Fact-checking and social media
The live candidate debates have frequently degenerated into name calling and claims that are hard to believe.

What is an interested citizen to do?

Thankfully the other trend this season has been the wide range of sites offering fact-checking on what is being said by all sides. 

Here is a starter list (it could never be truly comprehensive). The links lead to a site's political coverage where many, if no most, offer live fact-checking during major debates:

Big name media outlets on the right:
Wall Street Journal

Big name media outlets on the left:
New York Daily News
The Huffington Post

Mainstream media outlets:
USA Today
ABC News
CBS News
NBC News
PBS Newshour
The New York Times
The Washington Post 
The Los Angeles Times

Fact-checking organizations:

Foreign news media:

Hip media outlets:  

Partisan advocacy organizations:
ThinkProgress  (Liberal-leaning)
NewsBusters  (Conservative-leaning)
Breitbart (Conservative-leaning)

So, whether you're fact-checking a candidate debate or another's social media post, know that you have almost no end of sources tom verify what is being said.

Google has added Fact Check as a tag to search results involving major news stories. It says it is doing this to help searchers on the web identify stories that have a fact-checking in them. Google in a web post said:"We’re excited to see the growth of the Fact Check community and to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin."

Related posts:
Tracking the presidential election with social media
Social Media and Politics Makes for Odd Bedfellows