Politics and the Internet: The Relationship Is Growing

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In 2008, politics changed in a big way. This change was driven by the impact that the Internet and social media had on the Presidential election. Since that time, this same influence has been evidenced all across the world such as with the protests in the Middle East.

As a result of these events, users have an outlet to let their voice be heard. According to a new study from Topix and Equation Research, the gap that once separated voters and politics is getting smaller and smaller, largely because of the Internet.

Where do you go to get your political information? Let us know.

(image)The companies surveyed 1,000 U.S. voters and found that more voters are going online for political information. In addition, more than a quarter of voters are going to the Web to participate in political discussions and debates.

"People are working these issues out themselves by talking to the people on the Net," said Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix.


One of the reasons people are going to the Web is because many in the U.S. distrust the media for issues of bias, as the Gallup Poll found last year. Tolles told us that Internet gives users choice and lets them be a part of the political process in a scalable way.

As he explained, voters want to see both sides presented. They're not just looking for an echo chamber, but they're looking for an interactive experience that platforms such as Topix, Facebook, and Twitter provide.

TV is still the biggest source that voters rely on for political information, but the Internet isn't too far behind with those surveyed weighing in at 78 percent and 68 percent respectively. Although the Internet is gaining ground, Tolles does not believe TV will lose its value. Instead, he thinks the two will merge to some degree.

The main difference between the two is the interactivity that the Web offers. Tolles told us that voters want to have a "personal relationship" with news, which interactivity helps to promote.

"The Internet gives you a chance, as an individual, to get [to be] a little bit bigger part of the process," he said.

He went on to say that the relationship between politics and the Internet would continue to grow and that more voters would look to the Web for political information going forward. Tolles also said that politicians would have to figure out how to embrace the Web more effectively.

How do you see the relationship between politics and the Web evolving over time? We'd love to know.

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