Political Polarization on Social Media

Political Polarization in Social Media: A Case of Twitter and the 2011 Canadian Federal Election

(Social Media Related Research Initiatives)

During the 2011 Canadian Federal Election, a lot was written about the influence of social media on the election. On some level this is not very surprising; in just a short period of time, social media have altered many aspects of our daily lives including how we conduct our politics. Politicians, party organizers, the media and the general public have taken notice and are moving in droves to promote and debate party platforms, solicit donations, organize political rallies or flashmobs, recruit new supporters, and connect with other voters using social media. While this new reliance on social media has many obvious benefits, there is a growing concern that people are becoming more politically polarized on social media, especially among supporters of different parties. This research initiative investigates whether or not political polarization exists in social media by using social networks analysis to analyze  public messages from Twitter.com, a popular microblogging platform, collected during the 2011 Canadian Federal Election. Results from this study will be forthcoming in mid 2012.

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