Could social media bring and end to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign? Romney’s secretly recorded remarks at a fundraiser have sparked a public uproar. Politicians and public figures will surely learn from this instance. The digital era we live in reinforces the power and reach of the Internet and social media. The power a viral video has to possibly alter the stakes in this year’s political race, would be unheard of twenty years ago.
The video shows Romney stating that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who feel entitled to government assistance. This Youtube clip has spread like wildfire across the Internet and aired on cable television after its release by Mother Jones magazine. It has thrown a curve ball into his campaign, weeks before the election.
The Internet and social media sites like Youtube can offset the billions of dollars candidates have spent on campaign advertisements. Videos that go viral are seen by millions of people within a day or two of being released. The Democratic and Republican parties have spent billions of dollars on campaign commercials aimed at swaying a small group of swing voters. This leaked video of Romney has done far more harm than any campaign commercial could possibly sway voters back in his favor.
The video was available on Youtube before it made headlines. Media organizations need to pay attention to what is being communicated via social media networks, but they must do so cautiously. Social media allows for the instant proliferation and access to information. People often rely on social media outlets, such as Twitter, as a main news sources. However, such networks are not always credible. Nowadays it is about the speed of getting a story out, rather than the quality. In this case, Romney’s video is credible and a threat to his campaign.
The surfacing of this video reveals that with the prevalence of camera phones, tech-savy individuals are able to capture spontaneous moments at the click of a button. This includes unrefined behavior and revealing moments. Let this be a lesson to public figures to be aware of their speech and actions, particularly when it is likely that someone is equipped with a camera phone.