Editor’s note: This guest op-ed has been edited for factual accuracy, clarity and to adhere to the CU Independent’s standards of grammar and mechanics.
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It should come as no surprise that this presidential election is one of the most controversial and talked-about elections on social media that our country has had so far. Before I go any further, let me make it clear that this is not a pitch for one candidate over another, but rather to stress the importance of doing your own research before voting in this election.
Voters and journalists use social media sites as a key source for their political information as well as for a tool to aid in spreading content around to various audiences. But just about anyone can post false content with the intent to influence voters’ opinions.
As a result, sources like Poynter, a global leader in journalism, warn not to draw conclusions about what a post means. During an election, it’s easy to misinterpret the significance of content, because on social media it looks like the amount of people engaging with certain content gives it more credibility. For example, conservative commentator Tomi Lahren brings in millions of views on her videos and TheBlaze network — her tagline “final thoughts” may ring a bell — but this doesn’t mean that this qualifies her as a reliable source.
If we are to listen to the content that people are sharing on social media, then the candidates from both parties are simply the worst. On one hand you have the Republican candidate Donald Trump who is a misogynistic racist and on the other hand you have the Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton who is a liar and a crook. Voters of all ages feel like they are obligated to choose between the lesser of two evils to decide who will become the next leader of our great nation.
This may be in part due to people choosing their political positions based on the bias content that social media gurus, like Lahren and voices from several other outlets, are posting on various platforms and passing their opinions as fact. But what do you actually know about each candidate?
It is so important in an election as important as this one, to check whether the information you are reading or seeing on social media is reliable, because it could be false information posted by people hoping to influence your voting decision. It’s crucial that if we are to hold ourselves as a nation to a higher standard, we need to make sure our decisions on which candidate will take the reins of our country come from information that is shared by reliable and credible sources. So before you vote, please educate yourself with reliable information. Our country’s future depends on it.
Gabrielle Gomez is a CU Boulder student taking a Strategic Writing in Public Relations course; this piece was written for that course.