Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


This essay examines how social media as a source of news has severely impacted the political knowledge of the citizens of the United States. Research shows that while the media traditionally has been a moderator that sought to improve knowledge among voters and inspire them to determine their own beliefs, the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have inspired a polarizing effect on those who use the platform. Thus, social media is driving both conservatives and liberals away from the middle without providing them the knowledge that they need to have informed opinions. This study sought to determine if the use of social media as a news source caused a negative effect on political knowledge. Respondents were asked to reply to a variety of questions regarding their media consumption and questions aimed at determining two types of political knowledge as defined by authors Michael Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter. Results of the research showed an 8.5% difference in total average questions answered correctly between social media users and other forms of media. Using a cross-tabulation between referred media choice and number of answers correct, the data provided a chi-square value statistically significant at the .05 level. This significant correlation pushed me to the conclusion that of those who use Twitter, those who use it for their primary news source are less politically knowledgeable than those who use other forms of media for their news.