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Social Media Finds New Role In Politics

A new study verifies that many people use Facebook and Twitter to stay informed about political news and craft their opinions on key issues.

A recent study showed that 36 percent of Facebook and Twitter users consider social networking “very important” or “somewhat important” to stay informed about political news, reported At least one aspect of the results mirrors presidential candidate involvement – just as Democrats were found to be more likely than Republicans or Independents to say social sites were important, President Barack Obama was found to lead Mitt Romney in social media usage in a separate study.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project survey polled 2,253 adults from Jan. 20 to Feb. 19 to learn more about the public's opinion about social media in politics. "Those who are really active in discussing and participating in politics use social networking sites pretty eagerly and report that their discussions and debates on the sites affect them," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. "However, for most of those who use the sites, political material is just a small portion of what they post and what they read. And the impact of their use of the sites is modest, at best."

About 25 percent of the surveyed social media users claimed the sites were “very important” or “somewhat important” in recruiting people to get involved in political causes. And about 25 percent polled claimed to have become more active regarding a particular political issue after reading posts about it on social media sites. About 16 percent said they changed their views about an issue through online discussions on social media sites.

While politics was cited as very important to some, 84 percent of users claimed to have posted little or no political content through social media sites.

In a related story, read more about how the two main party presidential candidates are using social media to influence public opinion.