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Tweeting to PowerThe Social Media Revolution in American Politics$
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Jason Gainous and Kevin M. Wagner

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199965076

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199965076.001.0001

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Congress 2.0—Controlling the Flow of Information

Congress 2.0—Controlling the Flow of Information

(p.106) 7 Congress 2.0—Controlling the Flow of Information
Tweeting to Power

Jason Gainous

Kevin M. Wagner

Oxford University Press

This chapter illustrates how social media supplies a paradigm-changing element to the American political system by bypassing the traditional media and allowing the political actors greater control over news and the means to shape the information available to voters. While social media presents a dynamic platform that gives consumers information which is interactive and structured through networks of friends and acquaintances, the network itself is an opportunity structure for political actors. The channel is unmediated by traditional media gatekeepers. The messages are unrestrained in frequency, and the distribution is limited only by the rapidly increasing penetration of the Internet. Social media creates an environment for message control that allows political actors to reinforce preexisting views as well as to signal to their followers how they should understand information. The findings illustrate that the consumers’ power to mediate news online is limited and often illusory.

Keywords:   Congress, media, social networks, gatekeepers, social media

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