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Keywords:

  • social media;
  • Internet;
  • politics;
  • cynicism;
  • apathy;
  • skepticism

Abstract

This study examines the ways in which online media influenced political disaffection among young adults during the 2008 presidential election campaign. The effects of social media attention, online expression, and traditional Internet sources on political cynicism, apathy, and skepticism were evaluated using data from an online survey of college students. Results show that attention to social media for campaign information is positively related to cynicism and apathy and negatively related to skepticism. Online expression has a positive effect on skepticism. Implications are discussed for the role of social media in bringing a historically disengaged demographic into the political process.