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KQED Youth Takeover: How Social Media is Changing Political Advertising

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Low angle view of three young people using mobile phones (Xavier Lorenzo / Getty Images)

Politicians have historically relied on traditional media — like television — to get out their campaign messages and mobilize voters. Who can forget the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad? But while traditional media still dominates political ad spending, politicians are spreading their messages on digital platforms once reserved for entertainment. Even TikTok is being leveraged by many politicians as the way to engage a digital generation. As part of KQED’s annual Youth Takeover week, high school juniors Ryan Heshmati and Kate Quach bring together a panel of media experts to talk about how political advertising works today and how we got there.


Ryan Heshmati, junior, Saratoga High School

Kate Quach, junior, St. Ignatius High School

David Broockman, associate professor of political science, University of California-Berkeley

Makena Kelly, senior politics writer; author, WIRED's Politics Lab newsletter

Kyle Tharp, author, For What It’s Worth - a newsletter tracking digital strategy, spending and trends in politics


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