The media bubble is real, and Republicans are right—the media is biased against them. With the advent of social media, a strong political presence in social media may seem like a necessary piece to political activism, but this is not always the case.
Democrats are noted as the party with the most activity on social media, with the success of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as 2020 presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris largely attributing their popularity to engagement on social media. Their respective rises, however, are opportunities not often given to conservatives. Algorithmic discrimination among the biggest social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter makes it more challenging for conservatives to make their voices heard.
This is not new; the media has traditionally failed to support conservatives in the way they have for liberals, displaying a long-lasting bias. The majority of existing internet publishing jobs are located in Democratic areas, and because these companies need business over impartiality, they cater their branding and content towards a Democratic audience. Furthermore, when placing news sources on an ideological scale, it becomes very apparent that there are far fewer conservative companies to help balance this inequality.
Despite this, 75 percent of Republicans still believe that social media companies should not have increased regulations. This not only illustrates Republicans’ commitment to their platform, but also their principled belief in supporting the freedom of private companies to create and manage their own standards.
Compared with the trustworthiness of the Republican Party, the continuous issues with social media reveal that there may be benefits to having less engagement. A poll from Pew Research Center highlight hows both Democrats and Republicans believe that social media for political engagement can distract the public from issues that are truly important. In fact, the only group that has more than 70 percent of respondents that believe in the positive influences of social media is the “liberal Democrats.” Which makes sense, since that is how representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were elected.
These sentiments are stronger than one may think. An Axios poll revealed that attitudes towards social media in politics have turned hostile, as more than half of Americans believe that social media platforms actively harm democracy and free speech. Furthermore, a recent poll by NBC notes that a majority of Americans say that social media does more to divide the country than unify it, particularly by circulating falsehoods on a regular basis.
Despite the negative interactions with social media, Republicans have still found innovative ways to interact with their base in conjunction with the technological age. uCampaign, a notable startup that powers the official apps of top organizations and campaigns like the National Rifle Association and the Trump campaign, is one of the various methods used by Republicans to avoid scrutiny and political censorship on other platforms, while providing the public with direct access to Republican candidates and elected officials.
For American politics to succeed, the public needs access to the nuance in arguments and time to critically reflect. Social media often acts in direct opposition of that cause, with these faults creating opportunities for Republicans to thrive in using alternative means to disseminate information.