How Effective is Social Media, Really?

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John Haskell and Todd Belt discussed the practical advantages and drawbacks of various social media strategies for interactions between constituents and politicians. Belt’s research looks at how “fake news,” memes and other social media tactics reinforce partisan predispositions rather than stimulate critical thinking about candidates and their policy proposals. According to Belt’s research, misinformation promulgated through newspapers has long been a feature of U.S. presidential electoral politics. However, he asserts that the digital revolution has permitted the spread of misinformation to reach epidemic proportions, resulting in a crisis for the current democracy that may not be easily solved given America’s constitutional protections. Belt evaluates these questions and concerns by drawing upon the Library of Congress U.S. Elections Web Archive, Meme Database and ProQuest Archives, which are all free and accessible via the Library’s website.

Speaker Biography: John R. Haskell is the director of the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.

Speaker Biography: Todd L. Belt is John W. Kluge Fellow in Digital Studies at the Library of Congress and professor of political science at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. His research and writing focuses on the presidency, mass media, public opinion, campaigns and elections. He is the coauthor of four books: “The Post-Heroic Presidency: Leveraged Leadership in an Age of Limits,” “The Presidency and Domestic Policy: Comparing Leadership Styles, FDR to Obama,” “We Interrupt This Newscast: How to Improve Local News and Win Ratings, Too” and “Getting Involved: A Guide to Student Citizenship.”

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