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Social Media and Politics: Good or Bad?

A media law expert says there's both good and bad about President Donald Trump taking to Twitter to share his views. (whitehouse.gov)
A media law expert says there's both good and bad about President Donald Trump taking to Twitter to share his views. (whitehouse.gov)
March 8, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Social media is playing a huge role in U.S. politics that isn't likely to slow down. Anthony Fargo, associate professor at the Media School at Indiana University, says the controversy surrounding Vice President Mike Pence's use of a private email account while serving as Indiana governor is an example of how states might have to consider changing their public-disclosure laws.

He says government accounts are typically set up so the information is archived and more accessible to the public, while private accounts aren't as secure. When Pence's personal account was hacked, it could have put sensitive information into the wrong hands.

"When he was governor, he wasn't involved in national security issues that often, directly," he said. "But he was, of course, involved in issues about policing in Indiana."

Pence has defended his use of a personal email account to conduct state business, saying he did not violate Indiana law. He has said there's no comparison between his situation and the controversy that surrounded Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Fargo says Twitter is playing a big role in politics and the jury's still out as to whether all the tweets by President Donald Trump are helpful or harmful to the nation. On the positive side, Fargo says at least Americans know which issues are important to the president. But with so much going on in Washington right now, it's easy to become distracted by the barrage of tweets.

"If we do just basically take these type things at face value, social media could become a very powerful tool for a politician to manipulate the public discourse about what's going on," he added.

Fargo adds there is a lot of pressure on the news media right now to stay focused on the big issues, and not spend too much time on what President Trump is saying - in 140 characters or less.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN