Has social networking changed the election?

As the general election campaign draws to a close, Simon Brew wonders if social networking services had quite the impact we were expecting…

This was particularly prominent on 22 April, when the daily newspapers contained a spread of anti-Nick Clegg headlines. Back in days of old, there would have been no avenue of mass riposte for this, and the newspaper industry would have wielded its power in the same way that it traditionally has. But in the era of Twitter? That couldn't - and didn't - happen.

In perhaps the most high profile application of Twitter throughout the election campaign and election-related topics have been in the top 10 trending tags on the service for the majority of the past month somebody came up with the idea of #nickcleggsfault. This was, to be fair, quite ingenious, given that it allowed users to pin the blame for everything and anything on the Liberal Democrat leader, demonstrating an eye for satire that the mainstream media channels couldn't get anywhere near.

Newspapers that once would have been able to set the bulk of the news agenda were being lampooned to strong comic effect.

Interrogation

What's arguably worrying is that it's been left to social networking services to provide some degree of interrogation for the stories of the day.

Television channels have primarily focused on rolling coverage of whatever the assorted parties have served up on a given day. Then, with something like the Bigotgate' story, they've covered a story such as that with as many talking heads as would answer the phone, and lots of shots of a Rochdale woman's front door.

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