Duncan Suzuki

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VT to study how social media impacts elections

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech students and retirees will join together for a “tweetup” focusing on the role of social media in elections.

“Hokies Want to Know” will include a roundtable conversation about how social media has influenced voters and election campaigns. Attendees are asked to bring their smartphones and tablets to tweet during the event using the hashtag #HokiesW2K.

Non-tweeters are also welcome, as are those who use Facebook or other social media platforms. Audience members’ tweets will be projected on a screen during the roundtable. Twitter users planning to attend should register via Tweetvite. Top tweeters will win prizes plus there will be food and giveaways for all participants.

Karen Roberto, director of the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment at Virginia Tech, will host the event while Bob Denton, head of the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will serve as moderator.

Denton is co-author of the book “Communicator-in-Chief: How Barack Obama Used New Technology to Win the White House.” The book was awarded the 2011 Distinguished Book Award by the National Communication Association.

Other roundtable panelists include Jenn Mackay, assistant professor of communication whose Twitter handle is @jemackay, as well as representatives from campus republican and democrat student groups. Mackay’s research focuses on the role of technology in journalism. The students will discuss how their organizations use social media to support their parties’ candidates and platforms. Bob Blancato, the AARP Virginia state president whose organization is sponsoring the event, will also serve on the roundtable.

All candidates running for public office in Virginia are being asked to answer the voters’ questions publicly via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WW2K.  Virginia Tech students will be encouraged to tweet photos of themselves holding signs with their questions for the candidates.

All candidates for public office in Virginia – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and contested delegates’ races – are targeted by the #WW2K effort.

Non-tweeters who wish to attend the #HokiesW2K event should register online or by phone at 1-877-926-8300.

The event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, located at 1015 Life Science Circle, on the corner of Washington Street and Duck Pond Road. The auditorium is located on the lower level of the building, with an entrance near the parking lot.