The mass media forms the backbone of democracy as they provide voters with political information which they use in electing their leaders. According to Dye and Ziegler, (1983), the mass media serves four political functions that include: news making, interpretation, socialization, persuasion and agenda setting. Through these functions, the mass media create political issues they consider of importance to the public, define their meanings and consequences and ultimately cause the shift of public opinions and attitudes.
An example is when the media gives more coverage to elections than to ongoing cases in the supreme courts.Over past two decades, one of the most vital developments associated to digital media has been the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. Since the introduction of the first social media applications in the late 1990s, the sites have attracted over a billion active users worldwide, several individuals from these have incorporated digital social interactions into their everyday lives.
The social media has changed the traditional marketing landscape significantly since its occurrence.According to Boyd and Ellison (2009), in general sense, social media are the networking sites, which are internet-based applications that allow the users to create a public profile within the secure and closed system, have a list of users whom they have relationship with and are able to view their own friends list and that of others within the system.Recent trends show that social media usage has increased. As of October 2011, one of the most well-known social media sites is Facebook (Facebook, 2011).
This site currently boasts 800 million active users, and over 50% of active users log on to the site every day (Facebook, 2011). Members are able to connect with friends on the site, and the average user maintains approximately 130 friends (Facebook, 2011). Further, more than 350 million of these users access the site through a mobile device (Facebook, 2011).During the 2010 Massachusetts Special Election (MASEN) to fill the seat vacated by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, we saw attempts to influence voters just before the elections, launched by out-of-state political groups (Metaxas and Mustafaraj, 2010). Propagandists exploited a loophole introduced by the feature of including real-time information from social networks in the “top 10” results of Web searches. They ensured that their message was often visible by repeatedly posting the same tweet. A third of all election-related tweets sent during the week before the 2010 MASEN were tweet repeats (Metaxas and Mustafaraj, 2010).