Presidential candidates using social media to attract voters

A new study by the Pew Research Center says social media platforms are now central to candidates' outreach to voters

FILE - This Nov. 4, 2013, file photo, shows the icon for the Twitter app on an iPhone in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A new study by the Pew Research Center says social media is taking over the 2016 election.

The study shows platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram are now central to candidates’ outreach to voters. It might be because the number of social network users increased from 1.4 billion during the 2012 election to 2.3 billion in 2016.

Millennials making up a large part of the growth.

WKBN went to Youngstown State University to find out what social networkers think about seeing the election all over their feeds. Many say they avoid social media as much as possible during election season.

“I stopped going on Facebook. Facebook seemed to have a lot more of it than Twitter, and some of the other ones, so I have, to a point, avoided some of it,” said Rob Devito, a sophomore.

“Like tweets, I feel like they’re very attacking. Instead of saying what they’ll do, they’re saying like, ‘That’s a bad idea,’ or, ‘My idea’s better,'” said Tess Jones, a sophomore.

Sophomore Scott Schmuki said social media can be a beneficial form of distributing information on the debates, however.

“As far as debates, listening to them, they’re hours long. Not everyone wants to sit there and watch that, and if you go on social media, you can just see the main content, and if you want more, you can click on it,” he said.

If Twitter determined the fate of the presidential election, the Oval Office would be Donald Trump’s.

Trump has 11 million followers, with Hillary Clinton trailing behind at 8 million.

The latest analysis by Twitter Counter, a company that studies social network growth, said Trump’s tweets have the most engagement as well. They have been retweeted a total of 12 million times — twice as many as Clinton’s 5.5 million.

Neither candidate would beat out President Barack Obama, though, who was the most-followed world leader in 2016.

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