Campaign Conversations on Instagram and the Closure of Access to Social Media Data
9 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017
Date Written: June 25, 2016
This paper extends existing research about the use of social media in the context of political elections by presenting results from an exploratory social network analysis study of the use of the Instagram platform by candidates in the U.S. Presidential primary elections. Although Instagram is generally considered a visual platform, certain technological affordances provide to users a platform for conversation and interaction. Findings from this study suggest that Instagram’s conversational features are similar in their affordances to other social media platforms, and as a result, participation and the resulting trace data and networks resemble what has been observed on other platforms. While prior research largely ignores the conversational and social network aspects of the platform, the preliminary findings introduced here suggest that within the limits of what data is accessible through its API, Instagram supports the construction and analysis of social and communication networks. The paper concludes with a discussion of the API limitations and recent changes that negatively impact and possibly prevent the data-scientific study of social media-enabled political networks on the Instagram platform.
Keywords: Instagram, Social Media, Elections, API
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