Has Social Media Catalyzed Racism in the Trump Era?

Subject: Media
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 9
Word count: 2425
Topics: Social Media, Donald Trump


The 2016 campaign in the United State of America will be best remembered with the use of social media to relay political information. In most of the cases, the mainstream media and the supporters got information or the intentions of Donald Trump from his twitter handle. Most important is the claims that Donald Trump made as the candidate for the presidency and the effect it had to the people. On the twitter handle, Donald Trump made several claims that were not verified for accuracy and therefore the effect it had can still be felt in post-election politics. One of the claim that president Donald Trump made is that most of the mainstream media have fake news to change the perception of the Americans. By validating this claim to his supporters, he managed to reduce credibility of the mainstream media while improving the believability of his unverified tweets. It is a move that had a myriad of effect given that the mainstream media is one of the institution of democracy in the United State of America. Most of the stories and news that are brought up in the media that are truly anti Trump end being treated as fake news. 

Theoretical Framework 

This research paper will use the theory of schema formation in psychology. This theory posits that exposure to a given type of information can repattern the mind into believing what it is continuously exposed to. The repatterning introduces a schema that masks a rational mind with a repatterned thinking. The tweets that Donald Trump posted were used in repatterning their thinking and masking the rational mind from giving credence to the mainstream media. It is also important to note that most of the presentations that are made by the mainstream media are verified before taken to public within a legal and regulated manner unlike the social media where the presentation is done without verification and regulation. To that effect, the ills that are in society cannot be treated with significance that they deserve when the mainstream media that has verified news is treated as fake news while hatred and vices of social media are treated as truth. The social media therefore has an impact to issues that are pertinent to the society such as racialism, climate change, geopolitics among many others that need democratic institutions such as mainstream media. In the modern world therefore, there is overload of information that need filtering to get to the facts. 

However, political affiliation, racial hatred and faith that individual subscribe to bind and blind people from the facts. People in the current believe news that are appealing to them rather than the truth even if it hurts. There is a body of literature that is growing suggesting that in as much democratization of information is important it has its own impact to the society especially if it goes unregulated. Some of the research articles suggest that the democratization of information has escalated the hatred while there is that wing that contend escalation of hatred and posit that social media has only increased the visibility of the social ill such as racialism. The question that need to be answered therefore is what is the impact of president Donald Trump in vilifying the mainstream media that has verified content while giving credence to the social media content that is unverified with regard to racialism. 

Background Information 

There has been increasing effort in eliminating fake news from most of the internet sites. Some of the internet based news that are working on eliminating the fake news includes Facebook and Google Inc. The premise on which the fake news is pulled down is based on its effect rather than the cause. The effect of a given social media content may have different effect depending on location and the morality that people subscribe to since it is relative.  In as much the effect is palpable, the cause in this case is the most disturbing. People behind fake news have followers who they want to manipulate and carry out their interests. Such individuals include terror networks, racialists among other network of vices. Effort should be made to reduce the causation aspect rather than ameliorate the effect. The difficulty though in carrying out this exercise is the definition of fake news and the basis through which the verification is done before news are pulled down. It from this line that fake news should be viewed from those who propagate it more than the effect. The president of the United State of America has given credence so much to the social media that perpetuate vices like racialism more than the mainstream media is regulated with rules. It from this perspective that effect of social media content should be view from the causation perspective with President Trump being best case study. From this angle, it is possible to identify the impact of President Donald Trump in relation to the historical problem of racialism in America and world at large through democratization of unverified news of social media news. 

Scope of the Research   

This research is more on the causation rather than the effect of democratization of unverified news on social media rather than effect with president Donald Trump being the case study. President Trump has a huge following on twitter and being on a constitutional office, he commands respect and believability on what he posts on his account. The only institutions that are mandated to counter check and verify what is on the air has been vilified as being fake news. This therefore make the president assertion to be believed without verification. The societal vices such as racialism that have deep history in the America therefore can be bolstered. This research is devoted on establishing cause of racialism in the age of social media. The question is whether social media is the cause or it only help in revealing the concealed racialism in the United State of America. 

Research Aim and Objectives 

The aim of this research is to establish racialism in relationship to the democratization of the unverified news in the social media. To that effect, this research will establish if the social media is the cause or it has only increased the visibility of the deeply seated racism in the United State of America. The main objective therefore it is to determine if social media has a cause on racism. In this determination, the twitter handle of president Donald Trump is core and significant. The following are the specific objectives of the research: 

  1. To demonstrate weather social media has causation on racism.
  2. To find out if social media has increasing visibility racism. 
  3. To establish the effect of vilifying mainstream media on acceptance of social media content.  

Research Question 

  1. What are the racism causation aspect of social media? 
  2. What are the effect of social media on visibility of societal racism?
  3. What are the effect of demonizing mainstream media in a democratic society? 

Literature Review 

Racism seems to have escalated in with Trump use of social media during the campaign season. There have been hashtags that came into the fore before and when he was campaigning such as “black lives matter” among many others. These could be through increase in the believability of the unverified social media news. It is therefore interesting in questioning how social media has become the central player in the making of the news and why does it have more followers than on the mainstream media. Terror group such as ISIS have found refuge in social media because of its freestyle citizen journalism (Awan, 2017).  A recent report made from archives of fact checking website done by Awan (2017) has indicated that social media is an important and a dominant share as source of information, in the United State of America, to all those with the internet devices, 14 percent of them utilizes social media as an important source of news in the state of nation. 

The other revelation with the Information Science & Technology (2017) is that the known false news among the Americans that were affiliated the presidency of Trump was shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook while those affiliated to Hillary Clinton was shared 8 million times which shows some sense of believability. Another finding that was brought up by survey done by Gin & Hottell (2017) revealed that average American saw several fake news stories and half of them believed to be true. It was concluded by Gin & Hottell (2017) that people are much likely to believe narration that favor their candidate they are loyal to especially if they are divergent and ideologically segregated. 

From these survey, it can be seen that political affiliation binds and blinds the followers of a given politicians. The electorate becomes bonded to the ideology whether right or wrong then become blind to the facts. Once blind to the obvious facts due to the bondage, the social vices become into play and that why Popp & Jung (2016) posits that being blind to the lies that written on the social media by politicians has played a role in escalating the racism and hatred in the community. It is these aspect of blind and irrational following of the politicians that has made the social media warfare along the racial lines that caused and escalated the racism that is being experienced (Gabl & Hemetsberger, 2016).

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People are more likely to believe the story that sound nice to them even if they are wrong than true and unpleasant. When a cop legally kills a given person that posed danger to them can be castigated by people along racial lines on social media. The only negative and demerit that make fake news flourish is the absence verifications. To that effect, it can be concluded that being irrational and blind to facts has caused social media to be breeding ground of racism. To make it worse, some of the tweets of President Donald Trump during campaign and in his presidency, were racially charged therefore having a causation and an escalation effect   

Social media presence is heavy in the modern time campaigns and politics. The 2016 presidential campaign made it even democratized than before with people choosing to get their news from the unverified sources rather than the mainstream media that have to verify a single story before airing. These has made social ills in the society in the United State of America to be more visible than before. It is therefore possible according to Lim (2017) that the social media has not caused the nation to divide along the racial lines but rather increased visibility that had been obscured with the mainstream media. The research further suggest that social media has granted human being freedom to hate. It is from this point of view that Cortright and David (2017) posit a consistent finding that evils in society can be seen on the screen while they still happening. However, the demonization of the mainstream media such CNN by President Donald Trump increases credence and believability of the social media based news (Cox and Marie, 2017). This can have far reaching effect in terms of racism. 


Research Design 

This study will utilize qualitative study in its design and meet the core objective of research as posited by research questions. Case study will be the qualitative research design of choice for this in this study. The twitter handle of President Donald Trump will be the case study that will attempt to explore the formation of schema that end up masking the rational thinking. The effect of President Donald Trump communicating directly to the electorate and reducing the credence of the mainstream media such as CNN will be examined. Both form of explanatory and exploratory will be used. Explanatory will be used to relate the effect of Trumps tweets and reducing the credibility of the mainstream media. Exploratory on the other hand will be imperative in filling the gaps of the previous research done. To that effect, the behavioral aspect of individual followers of Trump, their perspective will be examined and related when replying on given tweets of President Donald Trump. The replies made by the follower, the retweets and like will be used in the thematic analysis to the effect of the research question. The research articles will also be used to find the link between the finding and what has already been researched. 

Data Analysis and Discussion 

For the purpose of gathering data, the tweets of President Donald Trump will be analyzed. Different tweets themed at different topics such as racism, climate change, intrusion to the freedom of the mainstream media will be used. This study will use 20 tweets with different themes. Then 15 followers of the president will be analyzed. Their personal tweets will be explored in relation to the reply that they make. Any shift from independent thinking to programmed thinking will be checked thematically. Through the thematic analysis of both followers of President Donald Trump and presented in order to respond to the research questions. From the thematic analysis and comparison with the existing findings of the other researchers will be discussed to identify the new revelations and gaps in already done studies. These will change the raw data which are the tweets in their simplest form into novel information that are in line with the objectives of the research. This will shade light on the impact of the social media on the societal vices especially racism. 

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The theory of schema formation in psychology is the guiding concept of this paper. The findings and the results will be based on the theoretical understanding on how protracted exposure to a given set of information may affect the thinking and the action of individuals. It is understandable that people are born with no hatred in them, or racism but they grow up to practice it. From such a perspective, being exposed to the tweets and other social media information over and over forms a schema in the mind that restructure and reprogram the thinking. The restructuring of the mental schema in turn replaces the rational thinking that may drop a given subject as either being true or false. Through case study, explanatory and explorative qualitative research design this paper will attempt to find President Donald Trump usage of tweeter has an effect on the way the followers act. The research findings of this research paper will be drawn from the analysis discussion. It is from this conclusion that recommendations will be made in regard to social media and their effect on racism.

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  1. Cox, Ana Marie. 2017,”Joy Reid Has Never Heard a Good Argument for Trump.” New York Times Magazine. p. 54.
  2. Lim, M 2017, ‘Freedom to hate: social media, algorithmic enclaves, and the rise of tribal nationalism in Indonesia’, Critical Asian Studies, 49, 3, pp. 411-427. 
  3. Lee, Jayeon and Young-shin Lim., 2016 “Gendered Campaign Tweets: The Cases of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.” Public Relations Review, vol. 42, no. pp. 849-855.
  4. Cortright, David, 2017 “Donald Trump’s Nuclear Tweets: Restarting the Cold War, 140 Characters at a Time.” Sojourners Magazine, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 8-9.
  5. Popp, B, Germelmann, CC, & Jung, B 2016, ‘We love to hate them! Social media-based anti-brand communities in professional football’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 349-367. 
  6. Gin, K, Martínez-Alemán, A, Rowan-Kenyon, H, & Hottell, D 2017, ‘Racialized Aggressions and Social Media on Campus’, Journal of College Student Development, 58, 2, pp. 159-174
  7. Information Science & Technology 2017, “Social media companies ‘shamefully far’ from tackling illegal and dangerous content’ 2017, Communications Law: Journal of Computer, Media & Telecommunications Law, 22, 2, pp. 36-37. 
  8. Awan, I 2017, ‘Cyber-Extremism: Isis and the Power of Social Media’, Society, 54, 2, pp. 138-149, Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 September 2017. 
  9. Gabl, S, Stoeckl, V, & Hemetsberger, A 2016, ‘”Will We Hate Google One Day?” A Convention Theory Perspective on Public Brand Evaluations’, Advances In Consumer Research, 44, pp. 443-444
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