Back on April 20, 2007, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama sent his first-ever tweet. A little over six months later, he was elected president.

Of course, it took a little more work than that simple (and, with hindsight, somewhat cock-eyed) tweet, but Obama’s savvy use of social networks to spur interest in his run for the U.S. presidency was absolutely a pivotal part of his campaign, and in the last five years social media has become a key component of the political messaging system, playing an important role in everything from defusing riots, forecasting elections and emergency response.

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