Instagram’s Political Value
For a while now, Donald Trump has been attacking Jeb Bush, for the most part in media appearances or on Twitter. Yet over the last few weeks, Trump has brought this fight to Instagram. On his Instagram account, Trump has been posting short videos that have attacked Bush’s record of support for the Iraq War. One video even features Jeb’s mother urging him to not run for President. While Trump attacking the younger Bush is nothing new, the attacks on Instagram stand out since national politicians don’t typically use Instagram for attacks. Instagram pages of such politicians as Obama or Hillary usually show them acting friendly towards “real people”.
Before Trump, Instagram wasn’t a place for politicians to attack each other. Yet as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there, it’s hardly surprising that somebody would eventually use it for attacks. Bush retaliated back in Tuesday with a video that pulled in archival footage of previous Trump media appearances where the would-be Presidential nominee spoke of his support for various Democratic causes, such as abortion, single-payer healthcare and raising taxes on the wealthy. At the end of the video, Trump says he identified “more as a Democrat” to a reporter. Not surprisingly, Trump retaliated to this attack on Instagram that compared Bush to Clinton.
These two posts stand in stark contrast to Bush’s previous Instagram persona; several of his earlier posts showed him taking group pictures after running with Navy veterans, candid shots of him talking with potential voters during campaign shops and wearing an apron near a grill at the Iowa State Fair. Yet maybe this attack is setting a precedent.
Political squabbles have recently gotten nastier and more sophisticated, particularly on Twitter. This past August, Jeb and Hillary got into a Twitter fight with each other through Twitter images. This is a far cry from the previous Presidential election, when the most iconic Twitter image was Michelle Obama hugging her husband after he was re-elected. As Instagram and Twitter have become a place for political fights, it reveals the drastically changing nature of the Internet. It also reveals a continuing trend in social media: Twitter originally started out as people passing notes to each other in conferences to an electronic billboard. And Instagram has moved from an app for sharing photos to a forum for attacks. All of these models move away from being a super-personalized form of social media to social media as a vehicle for public discussion.
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