In recent years, the Internet has taken over television as the most effective way to spread information to the entire general public. Over the last 50 years, political talk shows, advertisements and debates have been a staple for mass media. It was only a matter of time before old-fashioned, rough and tumble politics were introduced to the fast-paced "World Wide Web," as politicians have found new ways to reach a new generation of voters.
Politicians running for office have used the Internet to make websites, raise money for their campaigns, and run videos on media streaming websites, such as "YouTube." Now, politicians and their campaigns have aimed their focus at yet another profitable way to influence the many voters out there: Reddit.
Reddit is one of the most viewed websites in the entire world, ranking No. 137 in total traffic received by the web information statistics company Alexa. In the U.S., Reddit ranks No. 66. Hence why our politicians have targeted it with a grin.
Recently, President Barack Obama and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who is running for the Libertarian Party, have used the Internet’s most impressive front page’s “Ask Me Anything” or AMA functions. With this function, website users are allowed to ask the person who put up the post anything they want. However, it is unknown how effective these online campaign events really are.
Virginia Tech freshman A.M Leingang likes the idea of using Reddit as a campaign strategy.
“I think it's a powerful tool to reach young, opinionated voters as well as answer any questions or concerns that anyone interested, whether from the U.S. or U.K., might possibly have,” he said.
Of course, politicians reaching out to younger voters, who are possibly easier to influence, is a valid plan to tip the popular vote into their favor. Unfortunately, this method seems to have some shortcomings. Obama spent thirty minutes on the AMA, but only ended up answering ten questions out of a total that exceeded thousands.
According to CBS News, there were a total of 34 million unique page views on the post. In a sense, this was quite successful in getting his name and a couple of his major points out in the public eye. However, Obama took a heavy amount of criticism for the types of questions he answered and the responses to those questions, with many claiming his answers were generic and could have been typed by anybody.
Virginia Tech freshman Hunter Vayer agreed with many skeptics. “The person conducting the AMA has the choice to answer any questions they want to and ignore any as well, making them prone to target simple questions with positive answers rather than controversial topics,” Vayer said.
Politics has become too much of a part of the media in general. Face it! Nobody can escape the political advertisements and events; they are literally everywhere. They are on the articles you read, on your Facebook page, on the YouTube videos you view, on your Pandora channels and on many gaming websites, not mentioning the ones played continuously on television. Now, politicians have invaded Reddit, trying to find new territory to make their mark.
In almost every sense, we can view this ploy as just another way for politicians to reach out to us and preach their position. It is all a matter of opinion. Some just want to forget the election is happening, while others want their voice to be heard. It is for the ones who desperately want a voice in our government, who approve of the presidential campaigns’ uses of Reddit and other media tools as well.
However, it would not hurt politicians to take a step back and let the American public live their lives without mention of the election every five minutes. It may get more people to listen during the times they do speak to the public. The candidates in this election have placed their mark on many websites. With little help to their own campaigns, they have resorted to using the world’s favorite front page. I am probably not alone when I say, “Take it somewhere else.”