November 29, 2017 Kluge Fellow To Present Cutting-Edge Research on Social Media and Politics

Study highlights the impact of fake news, memes and videos on voters

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Kluge Fellow Todd L. Belt will share his findings on the impact of social media on attitudes, behaviors and voter choices in an afternoon lecture at the Library of Congress titled, “How Effective is Social Media, Really?”

The lecture will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14 in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Room 119, located at 10 First St. SE, Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Kluge Center director John Haskell will join the Digital Studies Fellow for a conversation on the practical advantages and drawbacks of various social media strategies for interactions between constituents and politicians. Belt’s research looks at how “fake news,” memes and other social media tactics reinforce partisan predispositions rather than stimulate critical thinking about candidates and their policy proposals.

According to Belt’s research, misinformation promulgated through newspapers has long been a feature of U.S. presidential electoral politics. However, he asserts that the digital revolution has permitted the spread of misinformation to reach epidemic proportions, resulting in a crisis for the current democracy that may not be easily solved given America’s constitutional protections.

Belt evaluates these questions and concerns by drawing upon the Library’s U.S. Elections Web Archive, Meme Database and ProQuest Archives, which are all free and accessible via the Library’s website.

Belt is a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where his research and writing focuses on the presidency, mass media, public opinion, campaigns and elections. The co-author of four books, he received his B.A. at the University of California, Irvine and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at the University of Southern California. He studied at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan as part of his graduate work. Dr. Belt has worked as a research consultant for political campaigns, interest groups, think tanks, and media corporations and is the recipient of two teaching awards.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit

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PR 17-173
ISSN 0731-3527