'It's Trending on Twitter' - An Analysis of the Twitter Manipulations in the Massachusetts 2010 Special Senate Election
Marion R. Just
Wellesley College - Political Science
Ann N. Crigler
University of Southern California - Department of Political Science and International Relations
Panagiotis Takis Metaxas
Wellesley College - Computer Science
affiliation not provided to SSRN
August 23, 2012
APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper
The 2010 Massachusetts Special Senate Election -- a precursor to the current high stakes congressional campaigns -- was characterized by millions of dollars in outside funding, an advertising blitz, out-of-state volunteers, Tea Party mobilization, volatile polling, and a broad social media campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Poll results were triumphantly tweeted, blogged, and covered in news reports among homophilous groups. In addition, users attempted to influence trends, real time search and news coverage by enlisting other users to increase volume on Facebook and Twitter for favored candidates. In addition the conservative Patriot Action Network threatened liberal news coverage and liberal journalists with a Twitter spam and the America Future Fund sent a "Twitterbomb" framed as replies to users interested in the Senate race. Given these efforts, Our results show that reporters must be cautious in interpreting Twitter and other manipulable, motivated and opinionated media trends as a guide to public opinion.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Twitter, social media, elections, campaigns, Massachusetts 2010 Special Senate Electionworking papers series
Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: August 29, 2012
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