Big Data and Political Social Networks: Introducing Audience Diversity and Communication Connector Bridging Measures in Social Network Theory

Axel Maireder, Brian E. Weeks, Homero Gil de Zúñiga, Stephan Schlögl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social media have changed the way citizens, journalists, institutions, and activists communicate about social and political issues. However, questions remain about how information is diffused through these networks and the degree to which each of these actors is influential in communicating information. In this study, we introduce two novel social network measures of connection and information diffusion that help shed light on patterns of political communication online. The Audience Diversity Score assesses the diversity of a particular actor’s followers and identifies which actors reach different publics with their messages. The Communication Connector Bridging Score highlights the most influential actors in the network who are potentially able to connect different spheres of communication through their information diffusion. We apply and discuss these measures using Twitter data from the discussion regarding the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership in Europe. Our results provide unique insights into the role various actors play in diffusing political information in online social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-141
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law

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