‘Framing’. A term used by media professionals around the globe is the newest way social media companies are able to shape modern day politics. Framing allows media professionals to decide what facts they share with the public. This allows them to craft the exact story they wish to tell. Framing works to ‘package’ rhetoric in calculated ways to encourage or discourage certain interpretations. When it comes to politics, framing of political articles can directly affect political engagement. This results in social media companies not only censoring politics, but also influencing it.
As framing is becoming more evident, America is starting to question the influence social media companies have on politics and current events. Pew Research Center found that 72% of U.S. adults, spanning over party lines, believe that social media companies have too much power and influence in politics. Another study found that “roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very or somewhat likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable”.
Sites like Twitter are able to use framing to dictate which tweets are considered trending. Social media sites are dictating what we see. While framing is being used by social media companies, it can also be used by communication professionals or political advisors. For example, President Donald J. Trump was able to successfully use framing theory on Twitter to win the 2016 presidential election. Eric Dunning from the University of Maryland says that,
“Communication scholars, social media theorists and future political advisors should take note of how Twitter facilitated one of the greatest political upsets in modern history”.
Framing isn’t the only communication theory causing America to question social media companies. Agenda setting is another way social media companies and news outlets are able to influence politics. Agenda setting gives companies first pick as to which stories are covered and how they are covered. Basically, big outlets like The New York Times and Fox News decide which stories you’ll hear about locally.
Different communication methods, including framing and agenda setting give us the ability to understand the world around us. Both methods give us the tools to better understand the Pew Research Center studies and the effects social media has on politics.