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Social media fueling political discussion

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Belinda Miller
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I follow tech and I follow politics and, while watching a cable news show on Thursday morning, I saw the two coming together in ways that are both encouraging and disturbing.

The show, MSNBC's "Morning Joe," featured a conversation about the election with co-host Mika Brzezinski along with columnist and pundit Mike Barnicle and famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.Barnicle blamed social media, along with the candidates and parties, for some of the anger and hyperbole surrounding the 2016 election, citing "the combustible elements of social media today where everyone has a voice, largely negative, largely anonymous."

In 1972, he and fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein investigated the "Watergate" break-in of the Democratic National Committee office, which ultimately lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.Now we're dealing with yet another break-in at the Democratic National Committee, only this time there was no need to prowl around an office or attempt to wiretap phones.

Although it wasn't said in the broadcast, the implication of these few minutes of cable TV is that the results of the 2016 presidential election could be tipped by social media-fueled angst and hacked emails.As a citizen, I find this encouraging and disturbing.

It also gives voice to the previously voiceless citizens who can use Twitter and Facebook to express their opinion and try to persuade their fellow citizens.

And the leak of documents, whether through hacking or Freedom of Information Act requests, is giving us a glimpse into the inner dealings of government officials that would have been otherwise hidden from the public.These two effects of our modern age -- along with the constant scrutiny of both candidates by investigative reporters and cable news talking heads, does lead to greater involvement and greater transparency.

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Belinda Miller
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