Cheap Tweets?: Crisis Signaling in the Age of Twitter
36 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2022 Last revised: 13 Jan 2024
Date Written: December 23, 2023
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
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