Technology is rapidly changing the way we approach everything from birth and marriage announcements to our personal feelings about presidential elections. When technology and politics intersect, they create an arena filled with possibility, but also fraught with potential dangers. The leaders of the future must tread carefully to ensure that they make the best possible use of available data and resources without infringing on citizens’ rights or privacy.

Technology and politics have always had a strong relationship, from the earliest polling technologies to the use of voter data that characterized the 2012 reelection campaign of President Barack Obama. In our most recent election, social media took center stage as a major platform for voters and non-voters alike to share their thoughts and feelings. Three quarters of congressional officers view social networks as a valuable way to connect with demographics they couldn’t previously reach.

There’s a wealth of information to consider when you’re exploring the complex connection between social media and politics, as you can readily see in this detailed infographic from the University of Southern California. While 82 percent of users report a positive relationship between social media and political action, just 33 percent indicate that they use social media to share political content. There doesn’t appear to be a strong correlation between social networks and voting activities, indicating that many of the people who are active on these sites aren’t necessarily active in the polls.

In this complex arena, there’s a great deal left to analyze and discover to ensure that the power of social sites is properly leveraged to help make a positive difference in the political arena.