Introduction and Table of Media Literacy ActivitiesDefining Critical Media Literacy1. Foundations of the United States Political SystemDemocracy in Social Media Policies and Community StandardsThe Internet as a Public Utility21st Century Women STEM InnovatorsMedia Coverage of the RoyalsRepresentations of Native Americans on Film and in Local History Publications2. The Development of United States GovernmentPromoting a Declaration of Independence on Social MediaMarketing and Regulating Self-Driving CarsRepresentations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the MediaPolitical Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American MusicalTweeting the Bill of Rights3. Institutions of United States GovernmentHollywood Movies About the Branches of GovernmentWriting an Impeachment Press ReleaseHow Members of Congress Use Social MediaPolitical Impacts of Public Opinion PollsDesigning a Website for a New Political Party4. The Rights and Responsibilities of CitizensImmigration in the NewsPortrayals of Immigrants in Television and FilmEvaluating Information About COVID-19Women Political Leaders in the MediaMedia Use by Advocacy Organizations and Special Interest GroupsDigital Games for Civic EngagementSocial Media and the ElectionsMedia Spin in the Coverage of Political DebatesCelebrities' Influence on PoliticsPolitical Activism Through Social MediaRecruiting Workers for Public Sector JobsImages of Teachers and TeachingTransgender Representation in the MediaMedia Framing of the Events of January 6, 2021Music as Protest ArtPACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media5. The Constitution, Amendments and Supreme Court DecisionsMedia For and Against ProhibitionThe Equal Rights Amendment on Social MediaNews Stories and Advertisements from the Civil WarRepresentations of Gender and Race on CurrencyTweeting For and Against the Equality ActReading Supreme Court Dissents AloudDebating Cameras in the Courtroom6. The Structure of State and Local GovernmentNative American Mascots and LogosWriting a Constitution for the InternetMilitary Recruitment and the MediaYour Privacy on Social MediaState Government Use of Media During the COVID-19 PandemicGendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in PoliticsEnvironmental Campaigns Using Social MediaTrusted Messengers, the Media, and the PandemicCampaigning for Political Office on Social MediaAdvertising the Lottery Online and In PrintLocal Government and Social Media7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media LiteracyPress Freedom in the United States and the WorldThe News from All SidesInvestigative Journalism and Social ChangeNews Photographs & Newspaper DesignUncovering Reporters' PerspectivesRecommendation Algorithms on Social Media PlatformsDetecting Fake NewsConducting Critical Visual AnalysisMemes and TikToks as Political Cartoons

Local Government and Social Media

"All politics is local," the former Speaker of the House, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr. famously remarked, suggesting that people are intensely interested in the political matters they believe directly affect themselves, their families, and their communities. It follows from O'Neill's statement that much of what is political locally involves the policies and actions of local governments.

To build greater political engagement among people, cities and towns across the country are using social media to bring the local government to the people. For example, on social media, some communities livestream mayor, council, and select board meetings, send online memes, greetings, messages, and reminders to local individuals and groups, respond to people's requests for information and services, promote programs and initiatives by city and town departments, and notify everyone about natural disasters, impending weather, and other emergencies (The Truth about Local Government and Social Media, CivicPlus, 2020).

Town of Amherst facebook post that says reminder indoor mask mandate takes effect on Wednesday 8/18 at 8am. Image that says hello, welcome back. we're so glad to see you. please be considerate of others to keep Amherst safe and healthy. Image of a person wearing a mask.
Town of Amherst, MA Facebook post about a COVID-19 mask mandate (August 2021)

Social media has been hailed as a way to promote what has been called digital democracy (or e-democracy or e-government). In theory, online access will give everyone in a community opportunities to express their views and influence public policy. The record to date has been far less than that, as one researcher noted, "democratic institutions have witnessed no digital revolution through the Internet" (Bastick, 2017, p. 3).

Still, can technology revolutionize democracy? One starting point for considering this question is analyzing how your local government uses social media and how might it use it more effectively and democratically.

Activity: Review and Improve Your Local Town Government's Use of Social Media

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Explain the major components of local government in Massachusetts. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T6.10]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
      • 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7