Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108098
 
 

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Birds of the Same Feather Tweet Together. Bayesian Ideal Point Estimation Using Twitter Data


Pablo Barbera


New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

November 2013

APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
Political actors and citizens increasingly engage in political conversations on social media outlets such as Twitter. In this paper I show that the structure of the social networks in which they are embedded has the potential to become a source of information about policy positions. Under the assumption that social networks are homophilic, I develop a Bayesian Spatial Following model that scales Twitter users along a common ideological dimension based on who they follow. I apply this network-based method to estimate ideal points for a large sample of Twitter users in the US, the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. The resulting positions of the party accounts on Twitter are highly correlated with offline measures based on their voting records and their manifestos. Similarly, this method is able to successfully classify individuals who state their political orientation publicly, and a sample of users from the state of Ohio whose Twitter accounts are matched with their voter registration history. To illustrate the potential contribution of these estimates, I examine the extent to which online behavior is polarized along ideological lines. Using the 2012 US presidential election campaign as a case study, I find that public exchanges on Twitter take place predominantly among users with similar viewpoints.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: twitter, ideal point estimation, item-response models, ideology

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Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: November 19, 2013

Suggested Citation

Barbera, Pablo, Birds of the Same Feather Tweet Together. Bayesian Ideal Point Estimation Using Twitter Data (November 2013). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108098 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2108098

Contact Information

Pablo Barbera (Contact Author)
New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )
19 W 4th St, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States
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