Bloggers’ Responses to the Snowden Affair: Combining Automated and Manual Methods in the Analysis of News Blogging
- 315 Downloads
The Snowden affair gave rise to a huge public debate about not only the legitimacy of the secret surveillance programs he revealed but also about Snowden himself and about the accuracy of the information he leaked. In this paper we present an analysis of how the affair was discussed in the English language blogosphere, based on a corpus of 15,000 blog posts written about Snowden and published from June 2013 to June 2014, as a sub-corpus of a larger corpus of 100,000 blog posts on the topic of surveillance, written during the period 2006–2014. Automated tools are used to identify the topics that characterize the blogging about surveillance and the posts about the Snowden affair. Through an in-depth analysis of the blog posts that commented on Snowden’s revelations of the PRISM program for surveillance of social media users, we chart how bloggers responded to Snowden and his role in this disclosure, whether they found the information credible, and the extent to which they expressed criticism of the surveillance practices. The analysis is used as a basis for discussing the role of blogs in the civic engagement during the first phase of the Snowden affair.
KeywordsBlog research Blogs Cluster analysis Social media Surveillance Topic analysis Trust
This research was supported by a grant from the Research Council of Norway’s VERDIKT program (NTAP, project 213401). We are very grateful to Knut Hofland and Andrew Salway for their role in creating the corpus analyzed here.
- Bacharach, M. and D. Gambetta (2001). Trust in Signs, in K. Cook (eds): Trust in Society. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Blei, D. M. and John D. Lafferty (2009). Topic models. A. N. Srivastava and M. Sahami (eds): Text mining: classification, clustering, and applications. London: Chapman and Hall, pp. 71–89.Google Scholar
- Bruns, A. (eds) (2005). Gatewatching. Collaborative Online News Production. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Bruns, A. (2007). Methodologies for Mapping the Political Blogosphere: An Exploration Using the IssueCrawler Research Tool. First Monday. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1834/1718. Accessed 23 June 2015.
- Bruns, A. and J. Jacobs (eds) (2006). The Uses of Blogs. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Chadwick, A. and B. Collister (2014). Boundary-Drawing Power and the Renewal of Professional News Organizations: The Case of The Guardian and the Snowden National Security Agency Leak. International Journal of Communication, vol. 8, pp. 2420–2441.Google Scholar
- Couldry, N., S. Livingstone and T. Markham (2007). Media Consumption and Public Engagement. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
- Duns J. (2015). News of Devils. The media and Edward Snowden. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.Google Scholar
- Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations (2013, June 11). The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance. Accessed: March 21, 2015.
- Gambetta, D. and H. Hamill (2005). Streetwise. How Taxi Drivers Establish Their Customer’s Trustworthiness. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Greenwald, G. (2014). No Place to Hide. Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State. London: Hamish Hamilton.Google Scholar
- Rasmussen, Eric (2006). Games and Information. An Introduction to Game Theory. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- PEW Research Center (2013). Public Split over Impact of NSA Leak, But Most Want Snowden Persecuted. http://www.people-press.org/2013/06/17/public-split-over-impact-of-nsa-leak-but-most-want-snowden-prosecuted/. Last visited: March 21, 2015.
- Rettberg, J. W. (2008). Blogging. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
- Rogers, R. (2013). Digital Methods. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- van Dijck, J. (2014). Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big data between scientific paradigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 197–208.Google Scholar
- Wemple, E. (2013). Leaker, Source or Whistleblower. Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/06/10/edward-snowden-leaker-source-or-whistleblower/. Accessed 21 March 2015.