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Politics

Repercussions of Commenting on News Websites in Norway

The next speaker in this AoIR 2016 session is Anders Løvlie, whose interest is in the repercussions of commenting on online newspaper sites for the commenters themselves. This is in the context of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, which were inspired in part by a number of right-wing extremist Websites. In the aftermath, online commenting on news sites became seen as a form of bigotry, and Norwegian news sites tightened their comment moderation approaches.

Combatting Political Astroturfing

The next presenter at AoIR 2016 is Adrian Rauchfleisch, whose interest is in digital astroturfing in politics. There have been a number of documented cases of political candidates suddenly picking up substantial numbers of Twitter followers overnight, presumably both because they bought followers themselves and because their opponents created fake followers to embarrass them. There is also a Russian outfit called The Agency, posting pro-Putin comments on international news Websites that purport to be from ordinary users in the west, and similar pro-China astroturfing has also been observed. Such astroturfing is not the same as trolling: trolls are self-motivated, rather than acting as agents of defined political interests.

Social Media Use in US Political Campaigning

We start the second session this morning at AoIR 2016 with a paper by Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Patricia Rossini, whose interest is in the social media posts of presidential candidates in the U.S. election campaign in 2016. On their live tracker they are capturing the social media activities of both Clinton and Trump, and these have also been coded by content.

Networks of Propaganda on Social Media

OK, so I'm afraid I missed the first paper by Ching-ya Lin in this Social Media and Society session on journalism and propaganda because I was talking to one of the poster presenters. The second speaker is Ebru Kayaalp, who takes an actor-network theory approach to the study of the propaganda wars between the U.S. and ISIS.

Tracking the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election on Twitter

The next speaker at Social Media and Society is Christopher Mascaro, whose interest is in 'big data' on political communication online. Political discourse studies have traditionally been restrained by geographic and social access, and 'big data' from online activities can overcome some of these barriers; it also introduces some new limitations that must be considered, however.

Social Media and Collective Political Action

The closing (!) keynote of Web Science 2016 is presented by Helen Margetts from the Oxford Internet Institute. Her focus is on the use of social media for collective political action – that is, for activities undertaken by citizens with the aim of contributing to the public good. There is a strong feeling that such action is happening, but as yet not enough empirical evidence about how and why it is happening.

Even those who refuse to participate online are somehow caught up in the changes that the Internet has contributed to: our lives are intertwined with its technologies, platforms, and content. And these technosocial spaces also generate a substantial amount of transactional data about user participation that goes well beyond the sort of data – for instance about political attitudes and engagement – that were available in pre-Internet days.

Networks of Caucasian User Groups on VKontakte

The final speaker in this Web Science 2016 session is Daniel Alexandrov, whose interest is in the use of social networking platforms in politics across the Caucasus region. This is a diverse and politically tense region, with several intractable political conflicts.

A First Look at the Political Uses of Quote Retweets

Next up at Web Science 2016 is Yelena Mejova, who presents a paper on the new 'quote retweet' feature that Twitter introduced in April 2015. This form of retweeting includes the retweeted tweet as a URL in the retweet, and can be used for somewhat different purposes from other forms of retweeting: while button retweets may imply an endorsement of the original message, the substantial space for including the retweeter's views in a quote retweet might be used for more critical engagement with the quoted material, for instance.

The Influence of Funding on Chilean Legislative Processes

I'm now in the "Politics and the Web" session at Web Science 2016, and we're starting with a paper by Pablo Loyola, whose focus is on politics in Chile. This work is interested in the collective decision-making processes involved in constructing new legislation, and builds on the voting behaviours of MPs and on drafts-in-progress of new bills. Are these processes influenced by the funding that MPs receive from corporate interests?

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