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Social media created a paradigm shift in how members of our society interact and communicate with one another. For example, the 2012 Summer Olympics’ opening ceremony saw 9.66 million mentions on Twitter in a single day, which accounted for more tweets than for the whole duration of the 2008 Winter Olympics. As Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt blasted across the finish line to win the 200-meter sprint, Bolt fans tweeted a record 80,000 tweets-per-minute as the runner overtook his competitors in the race. Two athletes, however, were kicked out of those same games for breaking IOC rules for particular social media communications. A journalist was booted off Twitter for criticizing NBC coverage of the games.
Like the Olympics, political campaigns saw a heightened awareness of a shift in how some people communicate and learn about issues. The 2012 political campaigns marked the first time a high-level campaign staffer—the “digital director”—had a seat in the top tier of a presidential or large number of major congressional campaigns. For President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, their digital directors were senior staffers with significantly more input than ever before (and multi-million-dollar budgets).
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