Cheap Tweets?: Crisis Signaling in the Age of Twitter

36 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2022 Last revised: 13 Jan 2024

See all articles by Benjamin Harris

Benjamin Harris

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Erik Lin-Greenberg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Date Written: December 23, 2023

Abstract

World leaders are increasingly turning to social media to engage in crisis signaling. This raises important questions about the effects of emerging communication technologies on international politics. In particular, are threats issued via social media seen as more or less credible than those issued through traditional channels such as official government statements? Using survey experiments fielded both on a unique cross-national sample of foreign policy experts in the United States, India, and Singapore and on a U.S. public sample, we find that threat medium generally generates no significant difference in perceived credibility among members of the public and national security experts. Put differently, tweeted threats are not seen as “cheaper talk” than threats issued through more traditional channels. This project extends work on crisis signaling, elite decision-making, and the domestic politics of international relations by taking into account an increasingly common technology.

Keywords: signaling, social media, political communication, crisis bargaining, credibility

Suggested Citation

Harris, Benjamin and Lin-Greenberg, Erik, Cheap Tweets?: Crisis Signaling in the Age of Twitter (December 23, 2023). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4226224 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4226224

Benjamin Harris (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Erik Lin-Greenberg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Building E40, 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.eriklg.com

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