DiCED’s Rachel Gibson in Florence 🇮🇹
This week, DiCED is touring France and Italy!
With DiCED members Niamh Cashell and Esmeralda Bon presenting at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Toulouse, France, Rachel Gibson is travelling to Florence, Italy, for the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics Annual Conference, to take place between the 28th and 29th of April.
At this conference, there will be a range of sessions, some of which discuss information and social media online (in general), on Twitter, in the USA, and in China. Rachel will be presenting a paper about the role of online political influencers in accelerating democratic deconsolidation (see below).
Are Online Political Influencers Accelerating Democratic Deconsolidation? Comparing the Role of Established and New Campaign Actors in the U.S. 2020 Presidential Election using Observed and Designed Data Sources
Rachel Gibson (University of Manchester), Esmeralda Bon (University of Manchester), Philipp Darius (Hertie School), Peter Smyth (University of Manchester)
Social media campaigning is increasingly linked with anti-democratic outcomes and a growing turn toward the democratic deconsolidation of established polities. Concern to date has focused largely on the impact of sponsored advertising and particularly micro-targeting on social media platforms (Borgesius et al., 2018; Kim et al., 2018), while the impact of ‘organic’ social media campaigning by candidates and non-official political ‘influencers’ less well studied. This ‘softer’ form of campaigning, however, arguably constitutes an equally important, if more subtle influence on voters. This study systematically compares voter exposure to these new campaign actors against that of established candidates and parties, and mainstream and alternative media sources during the U.S. 2020 Presidential election. We develop hypotheses that test whether greater exposure to these micro-influencers is more clearly linked to the behaviours and attitudes associated with the deconsolidation thesis. We test our hypotheses using two different types of data – ‘designed’ data (Groves, 2011) from a national YouGov campaign survey measuring respondents self-reported exposure to a range of different types of political content from these different actors – and ‘observed’ twitter data from a subset of survey respondents that records their exposure to organic content from influencers, formal campaigns and news media. We report on how far the two analyses a) support a link in general between social media exposure and b) do so particularly for influencers compared to these other sources. Where differences emerge in our findings across the two samples we discuss how far these are reflective of underlying differences in the nature of the datasets used for the analysis and the implications of this for future studies of digital campaign effects.