Is twitter a public sphere for online conflicts? a cross-ideological and cross-hierarchical look

Zhe Liu, Ingmar Weber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The rise in popularity of Twitter has led to a debate on its impact on public opinions. The optimists foresee an increase in online participation and democratization due to social media’s personal and interactive nature. Cyberpessimists, on the other hand, explain how social media can lead to selective exposure and can be used as a disguise for those in power to disseminate biased information. To investigate this debate empirically, we evaluate Twitter as a public sphere using four metrics: equality, diversity, reciprocity and quality. Using these measurements, we analyze the communication patterns between individuals of different hierarchical levels and ideologies. We do this within the context of three diverse conflicts: Israel-Palestine, US Democrats-Republicans, and FC Barcelona-Real Madrid. In all cases, we collect data around a central pair of Twitter accounts representing the two main parties. Our results show in a quantitative manner that Twitter is not an ideal public sphere for democratic conversations and that hierarchical effects are part of the reason why it is not.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Pages336-347
Number of pages12
Volume8851
ISBN (Print)9783319137339
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Event6th International Conference on Social Informatics, SocInfo 2014 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 11 Nov 201413 Nov 2014

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8851
ISSN (Print)03029743
ISSN (Electronic)16113349

Other

Other6th International Conference on Social Informatics, SocInfo 2014
CountrySpain
CityBarcelona
Period11/11/1413/11/14

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Keywords

  • Conflict
  • Political communication
  • Public sphere
  • Social stratification
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Theoretical Computer Science

Cite this

Liu, Z., & Weber, I. (2014). Is twitter a public sphere for online conflicts? a cross-ideological and cross-hierarchical look. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) (Vol. 8851, pp. 336-347). (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics); Vol. 8851). Springer Verlag.