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Social Media in the 2013 Norwegian Elections

The final paper in our panel at AoIR 2013 is by Anders Larsson and Bente Kalsnes, looking at the Norwegian election on 9 Sep. Their work examines the use of Twitter by citizens, politicians, and journalists. One starting point for this were the #valg2013 and #valg13 hashtags, to identify what users are being mentioned in these hashtags - which showed that then-PM Jens Stoltenberg was @mentioned frequently but did not often reply, while the Greens party both sent and received many hashtagged tweets. Amongst the retweeters, one-off messages which receive substantial retweets can become prominent, but more frequently retweeted users tend to be celebrities (comedians, journalists, etc.)

A second approach was to examine the Twitter uses by some of the key party leaders. As it turns out, during the month before the election there was a strong focus on @replying, especially from the leaders of the smaller parties. Their communication is mainly with their own supporters - there are very few users who received @replies from two or more leading politicians (and these are largely journalists and other media figures, not everyday citizens).

Finally, the citation of social media in the mainstream media can also be studied to examine the role of social media in political debate. Generally, social media are not a frequently cited source in the Norwegian media - but this doesn't mean that social media are not an important source: social media are a tool for finding and contacting potential sources, but follow up with direct contact, and it is those discussions which are then cited. This also ensures the exclusiveness of the quote. Social media are also used widely to promote published content. Where journalists are close to their sources, phone calls or other forms of direct contact are also easy - social media are mainly used where sources are more difficult to get hold of.

Social media are useful indicators of current attitudes and views, however, and a useful tool for understanding the network around an issue. Reader feedback is also received via social media, as social media lower the threshold for direct contact and make possible some smalltalk exchanges, too.

Overall, then, citizens have an opportunity to frame the debate through social media; politicians have an opportunity to communicate, but do so in a fairly limited network; while journalists tend to use social media indirectly rather than directly