Platforms of Persuasion: Investigating the Impact of Twitter and Facebook on Voter Decision-Making in the 2016 and 2020 Presidential Elections




Kozmetsky, Will

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Platforms of Persuasion is an investigation into the origins of two current social media behemoths, Facebook and Twitter, and how they have impacted politics over time. Starting in the 2008 election with Barack Obama's campaign, political campaigns have utilized social media to create a comprehensive network across the United States to remarkably connect supporters. This research paper digs into how social media is used to create a distributed virtual community by creating digital profiles for potential voters to send targeted advertisements. I also analyze the shifts in Facebook's data privacy policy in response to privacy concerns and data leaks throughout the 2010s. A major element of the paper is how the 2016 Trump campaign was involved in the highly controversial Cambridge Analytica scandal, where they were able to collect user data from over 80 million users. I used the Federal Election Commission database to analyze the amount of money spent by the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020 to attempt to quantify how the campaign used funds for digital advertising and marketing


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