Advertisement

Social Politics: Agenda Setting and Political Communication on Social Media

  • Xinxin Yang
  • Bo-Chiuan Chen
  • Mrinmoy Maity
  • Emilio Ferrara
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10046)

Abstract

Social media play an increasingly important role in political communication. Various studies investigated how individuals adopt social media for political discussion, to share their views about politics and policy, or to mobilize and protest against social issues. Yet, little attention has been devoted to the main actors of political discussions: the politicians. In this paper, we explore the topics of discussion of U.S. President Obama and the 50 U.S. State Governors using Twitter data and agenda-setting theory as a tool to describe the patterns of daily political discussion, uncovering the main topics of attention and interest of these actors. We examine over one hundred thousand tweets produced by these politicians and identify seven macro-topics of conversation, finding that Twitter represents a particularly appealing vehicle of conversation for American opposition politicians. We highlight the main motifs of political conversation of the two parties, discovering that Republican and Democrat Governors are more or less similarly active on Twitter but exhibit different styles of communication. Finally, by reconstructing the networks of occurrences of Governors’ hashtags and keywords related to political issues, we observe that Republicans and Democrats form two tight yet polarized cores, with a strongly different shared agenda on many issues of discussion.

Keywords

Social politics Agenda setting Social media Political communication 

References

  1. 1.
    Adamic, L.A., Glance, N.: The political blogosphere and the 2004 US election: divided they blog. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Link Discovery, pp. 36–43. ACM (2005)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bakshy, E., Hofman, J.M., Mason, W.A., Watts, D.J.: Everyone’s an influencer: quantifying influence on Twitter. In: Proceedings of the Fourth ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, pp. 65–74. ACM (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bekafigo, M.A., McBride, A.: Who tweets about politics? Political participation of twitter users during the 2011 gubernatorial elections. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev., 0894439313490405 (2013)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Blei, D.M.: Probabilistic topic models. Commun. ACM 55(4), 77–84 (2012)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Blondel, V.D., Guillaume, J.L., Lambiotte, R., Lefebvre, E.: Fast unfolding of communities in large networks. J. Stat. Mech. Theory Exp. 2008(10), P10008 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bond, R.M., Fariss, C.J., Jones, J.J., Kramer, A.D., Marlow, C., Settle, J.E., Fowler, J.H.: A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization. Nature 489(7415), 295–298 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Boyd, D., Crawford, K.: Critical questions for big data: provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Inf. Commun. Soc. 15(5), 662–679 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Carlisle, J.E., Patton, R.C.: Is social media changing how we understand political engagement? An analysis of facebook and the 2008 presidential election. Polit. Res. Q. 66(4), 883–895 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cha, M., Haddadi, H., Benevenuto, F., Gummadi, P.K.: Measuring user influence in Twitter: the million follower fallacy. ICWSM 10(10–17), 30 (2010)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chi, F., Yang, N.: Twitter in congress: outreach vs transparency. Soc. Sci. 1, 1–20 (2010)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cohen, R., Ruths, D.: Classifying political orientation on Twitter: it’s not easy! In: ICWSM (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Conover, M., Ratkiewicz, J., Francisco, M.R., Gonçalves, B., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: Political polarization on Twitter. ICWSM 133, 89–96 (2011)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Conover, M.D., Davis, C., Ferrara, E., McKelvey, K., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: The geospatial characteristics of a social movement communication network. PloS ONE 8(3), e55957 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Conover, M.D., Ferrara, E., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: The digital evolution of occupy wall street. PloS ONE 8(5), e64679 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Conover, M.D., Gonçalves, B., Ratkiewicz, J., Flammini, A., Menczer, F.: Predicting the political alignment of twitter users. In: 2011 IEEE Third International Conference on Privacy, Security, Risk and Trust (PASSAT) and 2011 IEEE Third Inernational Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom), pp. 192–199. IEEE (2011)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    De Meo, P., Ferrara, E., Fiumara, G., Provetti, A.: On facebook, most ties are weak. Commun. ACM 57(11), 78–84 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Diakopoulos, N.A., Shamma, D.A.: Characterizing debate performance via aggregated Twitter sentiment. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1195–1198. ACM (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    DiGrazia, J., McKelvey, K., Bollen, J., Rojas, F.: More tweets, more votes: social media as a quantitative indicator of political behavior. PloS ONE 8(11), e79449 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Effing, R., Hillegersberg, J., Huibers, T.: Social media and political participation: are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube democratizing our political systems? In: Tambouris, E., Macintosh, A., Bruijn, H. (eds.) ePart 2011. LNCS, vol. 6847, pp. 25–35. Springer, Heidelberg (2011). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-23333-3_3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ellison, N.B., Vitak, J., Gray, R., Lampe, C.: Cultivating social resources on social network sites: Facebook relationship maintenance behaviors and their role in social capital processes. J. Comput. Mediated Commun. 19(4), 855–870 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ferrara, E.: Manipulation and abuse on social media. ACM SIGWEB Newslett. (Spring), 4 (2015)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ferrara, E., Varol, O., Davis, C., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: The rise of social bots. Commun. ACM 59(7), 96–104 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ferrara, E., Varol, O., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: Traveling trends: social butterflies or frequent fliers? In: Proceedings of the First ACM Conference on Online Social Networks, pp. 213–222. ACM (2013)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fortunato, S., Barthelemy, M.: Resolution limit in community detection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 104(1), 36–41 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gayo-Avello, D.: I wanted to predict elections with Twitter and all i got was this lousy paper-a balanced survey on election prediction using twitter data. arXiv preprint arXiv:1204.6441 (2012)
  26. 26.
    Gerbaudo, P.: Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism. Pluto Press, London (2012)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gibson, R.K., McAllister, I.: Does cyber-campaigning win votes? Online communication in the 2004 Australian election. J. Elections Pub. Opin. Parties 16(3), 243–263 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Glassman, M., Straus, J.R., Shogan, C.J.: Social networking and constituent communication: Member use of twitter during a two-week period in the 111th congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress (2009)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Golbeck, J., Grimes, J.M., Rogers, A.: Twitter use by the us congress. J. Am. Soc. Inform. Sci. Technol. 61(8), 1612–1621 (2010)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hemphill, L., Culotta, A., Heston, M.: Framing in social media: How the us congress uses twitter hashtags to frame political issues. Available at SSRN 2317335 (2013)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hemphill, L., Otterbacher, J., Shapiro, M.: What’s congress doing on Twitter? In: Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 877–886. ACM (2013)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Howard, P.N., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M.M., Mari, W., Maziad, M.: Opening closed regimes: what was the role of social media during the arab spring? Available at SSRN 2595096 (2011)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Iyengar, S.: Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1994)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Iyengar, S., Simon, A.F.: New perspectives and evidence on political communication and campaign effects. Ann. Rev. Psychol. 51(1), 149–169 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lazer, D., Pentland, A.S., Adamic, L., Aral, S., Barabasi, A.L., Brewer, D., Christakis, N., Contractor, N., Fowler, J., Gutmann, M., et al.: Life in the network: the coming age of computational social science. Science 323(5915), 721 (2009). (New York, NY)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lerman, K., Ghosh, R.: Information contagion: an empirical study of the spread of news on Digg and Twitter social networks. In: Proceedings of the 4th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, pp. 90–97 (2010)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Macnamara, J.: The quadrivium of online public consultation: policy, culture, resources, technology. Aust. J. Polit. Sci. 45(2), 227–244 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    McCombs, M.: A look at agenda-setting: past, present and future. Journalism Stud. 6(4), 543–557 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    McCombs, M.E., Shaw, D.L.: The agenda-setting function of mass media. Pub. Opin. Q. 36(2), 176–187 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    McCombs, M.E., Shaw, D.L., Weaver, D.H.: Communication and Democracy: Exploring the Intellectual Frontiers in Agenda-setting Theory. Psychology Press, Mahwah (1997)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Metaxas, P.T., Mustafaraj, E.: Social media and the elections. Science 338(6106), 472–473 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Morstatter, F., Pfeffer, J., Liu, H., Carley, K.M.: Is the sample good enough? Comparing data from twitter’s streaming api with twitter’s firehose. arXiv preprint arXiv:1306.5204 (2013)
  43. 43.
    Parmelee, J.H., Bichard, S.L.: Politics and the Twitter revolution: How tweets influence the relationship between political leaders and the public. Lexington Books (2011)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Pentland, A.: Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread-the Lessons From a New Science. Penguin Press, New York (2014)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ratkiewicz, J., Conover, M., Meiss, M., Goncalves, B., Flammini, A., Menczer, F.: Detecting and tracking political abuse in social media. In: Proceedings of the 5th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, pp. 297–304 (2011)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Russell Neuman, W., Guggenheim, L., Mo Jang, S., Bae, S.Y.: The dynamics of public attention: agenda-setting theory meets big data. J. Commun. 64(2), 193–214 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Shogan, C.J.: Blackberries, tweets, and Youtube: technology and the future of communicating with congress. PS Polit. Sci. Polit. 43(02), 231–233 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Stieglitz, S., Dang-Xuan, L.: Political communication and influence through microblogging-an empirical analysis of sentiment in Twitter messages and retweet behavior. In: 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS), pp. 3500–3509. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tumasjan, A., Sprenger, T.O., Sandner, P.G., Welpe, I.M.: Election forecasts with Twitter: how 140 characters reflect the political landscape. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev., 0894439310386557 (2010)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Varol, O., Ferrara, E., Ogan, C.L., Menczer, F., Flammini, A.: Evolution of online user behavior during a social upheaval. In: Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Conference on Web Science, pp. 81–90. ACM (2014)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Wang, Y., Feng, Y., Zhang, X., Niemi, R., Luo, J.: Will sanders supporters jump ship for trump? Fine-grained analysis of twitter followers. arXiv preprint arXiv:1605.09473 (2016)
  52. 52.
    Wang, Y., Li, Y., Luo, J.: Deciphering the 2016 US presidential campaign in the twitter sphere: a comparison of the trumpists and clintonists. arXiv preprint arXiv:1603.03097 (2016)
  53. 53.
    Wanta, W., Ghanem, S.: Effects of agenda setting. Mass media effects research: Advances through meta-analysis, pp. 37–51 (2007)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Weaver, D., McCombs, M., Shaw, D.L.: Agenda-setting research: issues, attributes, and influences. In: Handbook of Political Communication Research, pp. 257–282 (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinxin Yang
    • 1
  • Bo-Chiuan Chen
    • 1
  • Mrinmoy Maity
    • 1
  • Emilio Ferrara
    • 2
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations