EDITORIAL: Social media already plays role in civic election

Voters need to be aware of what’s being passed off as fact on the Internet

Facebook and other social media have played supporting roles in the last few elections, but the 2014 municipal election may be the first where they can be seen to have a direct effect on the outcome.

It’s already had a direct effect on one young aspirant to the mayor’s chair in another community, who declared his intention to run Friday morning and withdrew Friday evening, after some inappropriate Facebook posts he made last year came to light.

That’s a lesson learned for the young man, and one way social media has already affected the outcome of the Nov. 15 municipal election.

There will certainly be others.

People are talking about the change they want to see in politics using these platforms, which is a good thing and will make them a force on Nov. 15.

Still, watching the discussion on social media, you see how often opinion gets substituted for fact, and how fast discussions get hijacked or devolve into personal attacks and other forms of abuse.

The lesson here for voters, as social media becomes evermore a source of political information free from checks and balances, is to do your own research.

As with all information that comes your way in life, fact-check and examine the source supplying it before deciding if it’s reliable, especially when using it to decide where to make your mark on a ballot.

Most importantly, never vote based on someone else’s beliefs and judgements. Learn to separate opinion from fact, and remember that even the most well-meaning people may be sharing inaccurate information.

 

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