One of the great promises of the internet was the possibility that it could serve as a new type of public commons in which political dialog would flourish, citizens would come to understand each other better, and democratic practices such as voting would be more informed. Social media seemed to offer unique affordances for realizing this possibility. But what has actually happened is much more complex. In this chapter, we discuss discourse-supporting applications on the internet, starting with blogs and online forums and focusing most heavily on social media, as they have been used in electoral politics and political activism.
If social media is a new kind of public sphere, then the question arises how it impacts participation ...