Members of the 116th Congress rail against social-media companies but posted to Twitter and Facebook a record 2.2 million times
- Members of the 116th Congress broke records for their social media posts and followers in 2019 and 2020.
- The Pew Research Center found lawmakers made 2.2 million posts to
- Savvy Congress members use social media to meet their constituents without relying on traditional media.
Members of Congress in total made more than 2.2 million posts to Twitter and Facebook during the 116th Congress, from January 2019 through December 2020, an analysis by the Pew Research Center published Tuesday found.
The numbers for the 116th Congress eclipsed data collected during the previous two sessions. The research center began collecting data on members' social media usage during the 114th Congress, starting in 2015. The most recent Congress produced about 738,000 more posts on Twitter and Facebook than the 114th Congress, according to Pew.The data comes as lawmakers call for changes to social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. Democrats have argued social media companies are too big and wield too great of power with too little oversight, accusing the platforms of fostering extremism.
Facebook posts and tweets received more than 2 billion combined favorites, likes, or other reactions, according to the study, up from just 356 million during the 114th Congress. Shares and retweets also increased from 110 million in the 114th Congress to 500 million during the 116th Congress.
Democrats dominated the list of members with over 1 million followersVermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent and former candidate for president, had more followers than any other member of Congress with more than 21.7 million followers across Twitter and Facebook at the end of 2020. Data analyzed by Pew shows that in the 116th Congress, Democrats accounted for the majority of members with more than 1 million followers on social media. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who made headlines for publicly breaking with Trump throughout his presidency, was the fourth most-followed member of the 116th Congress with more than 12 million followers across his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He was the only GOP member in the top five most followed.
The second-most followed member of Congress across Facebook and Twitter as of late last year was Vice President Kamala Harris, then a Democratic senator from California and the vice president-elect. Rep.
Social media offers savvy lawmakers an alternative to reach their constituents and younger audiences
Dr. Vincent Raynauld, an Emerson College professor in Boston who studies how social media impacts
It can also allow them to spread their own talking points without pushback they may receive through participating in more traditional media avenues, like on cable news or in print. Elected officials, Raynauld said, have turned to social media especially as attacks on the press have eroded the American public's trust in traditional media.
In addition to Twitter and Facebook, elected leaders in recent months have turned to other platforms to meet their constituents where they hang out, he noted, as they attempt to curate a younger audience. Ocasio-Cortez has live-streamed on popular gaming platform Twitch, while others, like the newly elected Sen.
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