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Does Twitter now set the news agenda?

Does Twitter now set the news agenda?

The information provided in the traditional media is of fundamental importance for the policy-making process, signalling which issues are gaining traction, which are falling out of favour, and introducing entirely new problems for the public to digest. But the monopoly of the traditional media as a vehicle for disseminating information about the policy agenda is […]

Five Pieces You Should Probably Read On: Fake News and Filter Bubbles

  This is the second post in a series that will uncover great writing by faculty and students at the Oxford Internet Institute, things you should probably know, and things that deserve to be brought out for another viewing. This week: Fake News and Filter Bubbles! Fake news, post-truth, “alternative facts”, filter bubbles — this […]

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Is Social Media Killing Democracy?

This is the big year for computational propaganda — using immense data sets to manipulate public opinion over social media. Both the Brexit referendum and US election have revealed the limits of modern democracy, and social media platforms are currently setting those limits. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook now provide a structure for our political lives. We’ve […]

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Rethinking Digital Media and Political Change

What are the dangers or new opportunities of digital media? One of the major debates in relation to digital media in the United States has been whether they contribute to political polarization. I argue in a new paper (Rethinking Digital Media and Political Change) that Twitter led to Donald Trump’s rise and success to date […]

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Digital Disconnect: Parties, Pollsters and Political Analysis in #GE2015

Digital data generated during election campaigns are a valuable – but underused – source of information for political parties, pollsters and political analysts alike. They contain signals of what political parties are doing, how they are being received, and what people are thinking and talking about. The OII’s Helen Margetts and Scott Hale discuss how use of digital tools and social media by the two largest parties both, in different ways, illustrate a disconnect between the tightly controlled party campaigns, and the electorate on social media. These differences could lend a clue to why the opinion polls throughout the UK’s GE2015 campaign got it so wrong, and provide signposts for parties seeking to rebuild their relatioship with their supporters after this surprising election.

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Political polarization on social media: do birds of a feather flock together on Twitter?

Is social media democratizing and empowering, or simply a new platform for tighter messaging and control? As social media usage widens and deepens across much of the world, its impacts on politics and democracy are becoming incontestable, but whether these impacts ultimately prove positive remains an open question. Anatoliy Gruzd (Ryerson University) and Jeffrey Roy (Dalhousie University) discuss their Policy and internet article: Investigating Political Polarization on Twitter: A Canadian Perspective, which investigates the extent to which Twitter users cluster around shared political interests.

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Can Twitter provide an early warning function for the next pandemic?

With factors such as air travel act as a catalyst in the spread of new and novel viruses, the need to improve global population monitoring and enhance surveillance of infectious diseases is more pressing than ever. Patty Kostkova (UCL) discusses how the real-time streams of user data generated on social networks like Twitter can be used for monitoring the health of large populations, providing a potential early warning function for pandemics, detecting flu spikes weeks before official surveillance systems. Watch Patty talk on this subject at the OII.

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Predicting elections on Twitter: a different way of thinking about the data

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the potential of social media as a means to understand public opinion. Social media monitoring, which in theory can extract information from tweets and Facebook posts and quantify positive and negative public reactions to people, policies and events has an obvious utility for politicians seeking office. Nick Anstead (LSE) co-author with Mike Jensen (University of Canberra) of a paper “Psephological investigations: Tweets, votes, and unknown unknowns in the republican nomination process” published in Policy and Internet discusses how useful these techniques are for predicting election results, and how they might be reimagined in the future.

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Investigating the structure and connectivity of online global protest networks

The rise of social networking tools, accompanied by the mass adoption of mobile devices, has strengthened the impact and broadened the reach of today’s political protests. OII researchers Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon and Ning Wang discuss their paper, ‘The Bridges and Brokers of Global Campaigns in the context of Social Media’, which investigates whether the ‘fluidity, horizontality and connectivity’ often claimed for online protest networks stands up to empirical scrutiny.

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