#WebSci20 – Paper Session 5: Politics by Nina Schuller

Posted on behalf of Nina Schuller

Session on Politics:  Politics on Digital Platforms

This session, chaired by Claire Hooper, explored findings from four studies on Reddit, TikTok, and Instagram.

Corrado Monti and colleagues had developed predictive modelling of who would join a Reddit pro-Trump community.  They found that groups and homophily played a greater role than linguistics features. In the run up to the 2020 US elections, the researchers were now focused more on behaviours and how the experience of the Trump presidency might impact on support.

Deven and colleagues had investigated how the fact-checking Snope operated across politicalised communities on Reddit.  It was found that snopes were more corrective in political communities than in other Reddit spaces, and in some situations could impact on the length of conversation.

Juan Carlos’ and colleagues work on TikTok revealed politics as a form of entertainment – with the users as the stars.  This included some surprising findings on how young users were performing politics through music videos, such as duets comprising of an original video and the users response to it.  The study found that democrats were more likely than republicans to duet with their political opposites.

Carols Henrique Gomes Ferreira and colleagues had investigated political commenters on Instagram.  They focused on those commenters who came together as co-commenters, and the structures that emerged from this.   It was found that there highly active commenters were also highly persistent over time – especially around election time – and were the most stable commenters in their communities.

Across all the studies it was recognised that context (including the specific algorithms and affordances of each platform) was important.  For example, TikTok was seen to be a specific type of environment where users had to be creative in order to get noticed.  Comparative studies, were difficult due to the speed at which platforms changed, but there were some studies emerging that were attempting comparison.

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