In 2008, it was Facebook. In 2012, it was Twitter.
In 2016, one social media platform may be crucial in the race for office: Periscope.
The video-streaming app, which allows users to share live content with their Twitter followers, is gaining popularity in the political sphere thanks to its candid and interactive format.
First used by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) to chat with voters about the federal budget and net neutrality, Periscope allows for more honesty and transparency in politics. It also provides a new way for constituents to get involved.
Voters and activists have been using the app to give others the opportunity to see politics in action, allowing people who may have felt disconnected from previous elections to become more involved in the democratic process.
Citizens can now actively participate in events that they cannot actually attend. The app also allows for off-the-cuff interviews or Q-&-A’s from journalists or everyday individuals.
Like the debate between Kennedy and Nixon shows, the public demeanor of a candidate can make or break their campaign. The ability of the media and everyday citizens to live-stream unedited, off-the-cuff moments means campaign ending snafus—such as Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment in 2012—can be broadcast instantly.
Current presidential nominees are understanding the importance of Periscope: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have all hosted events using Periscope. West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (@NatalieTennant) has also used the app to livestream events at the Capitol Complex to her followers, as has Senate President and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole (@SenBillCole).