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Saturday, October 13 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Social Mediations of the Political III

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YOUTH POLITICAL SOCIAL MEDIA USE IN THE TRUMP ERA
Joel Penney
This study uses qualitative focus groups to investigate emergent patterns of youth political social media use in the context of the controversial leadership of U.S. President Donald Trump. The participants’ accounts suggest that the election of Trump was a transformative moment in their lives as young citizens, and that they have shifted their approaches to political social media in response. First, Trump’s mainstreaming of far-right ideologies that target ethnic and sexual minorities corresponds with many anti-Trump participants feeling that it is their ‘duty’ to counter these ideas on social media, suggesting the development of emergent ‘dutiful citizenship’ norms that prioritize discursive and persuasion-oriented forms of online activism. Additionally, some pro-Trump participants report feeling emboldened by Trump’s example to share controversial right-wing views more freely online. Second, the proliferation of online disinformation in the Trump era corresponds with many participants emphasizing the importance of sharing credible, accurate, and verified news articles with their peers in order to counteract the influence of ‘fake news.’ Third, Trump’s unprecedented embrace of social media to communicate directly with the public corresponds with participants approaching platforms like Twitter as spaces for citizen interaction with institutional power. However, in this case, ‘speaking back’ to Trump on Twitter resembles less a civic duty and more a playful mode of engagement in which youth define their political identities and communities in relation. Together, the data suggest a hybridization of ‘actualizing’ and ‘dutiful’ citizenship styles in young people’s online political activities at a time of perceived urgency and crisis.

LET DATA SPEAK? TRACING SUCCESS ENHANCERS OF DIGITAL INFOGRAPHICS IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
Eedan R Amit-Danhi, Limor Shifman
While digital political infographics have become an integral part of contemporary electoral campaigners, we know very little about the features that boost the success of political infographics in terms of user engagement. This study is the first scholarly exploration addressing this question. Relying on literature on political campaigns, virality, and infographics, we analyzed a sample of all infographics posted by the four leading candidates in the 2016 US Presidential Election (N=253). A quantitative content analysis, which traced the association between two success factors (likes and shares) and infographic features generated three main findings: (1) infographics based on comparisons that mention data sources are more successful; (2) in contrast to previous findings in virality studies, infographics that include direct calls for digital action (as well as general calls for action in the post text) are liked and shared less; (3) cues that invoke emotions are not associated significantly with infographics in the general sample, yet anger and fear were found to augment success in the case of infographics posted by Donald Trump. Our findings led to the conceptualization of genre-specific success enhancers, pointing out that not all content types succeed or fail according to the same characteristics but rather that success is modified by the features unique to it as a communicative genre.

POLITICAL FANDOMS AND SUPERPARTICIPANTS IN POLITICAL CONVERSATIONS ON TWITTER
Gabriela Zago, Raquel Recuero, Felipe Soares
In this proposal, we discuss the role of superparticipants in political conversations on Twitter. Our hypothesis is that these highly active users show a clear political position and intentionally act to give visibility to some topics and to reduce the visibility of others, practices that are similar to those observed among fans in popular culture. In terms of methods, we use social network analysis metrics to identify the modularity of the network and users that receive more attention than others (higher indegree) or mention more other users (higher outdegree). We collected tweets related to the impeachment of the Brazilian ex-president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 in three critical dates of the process. By observing the users with higher outdegree in each network, we noticed some patterns and behaviors that can characterize those users as political fans. Our main finding is that the superparticipants with higher outdegree helped to shape the polarized networks by retweeting like-minded accounts, and thus are important and influence the study of polarized political networks on Twitter.

THE COMMERCIAL DISSOLUTION AND CHANGING POLITICS OF CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM: A CASE OF SINA WEIBO\
Lianrui Jia, Xiaofei Han
The key question this paper addresses is how Weibo platform evolves over the years in push-and-pull forces of commercialization, capitalization and political control? We will provide a historical and critical analysis of Weibo as a popular social media platform in China (2009-2017). Our analysis will unfold along three dimensions: firstly, we focus on the political economy of Weibo by investigating the changing ownership structure, business models, board of directors, market capitalization, and various government regulations and guidelines on Weibo (such as real name registration policy, intermediary liability, licensing requirement for audio visual streaming, etc.). In this way, we will make Weibo’s relations to state, other internet giants, foreign and domestic capitals explicit and showcase the intricate power relations between them. Such analysis will then foreground the second dimension of this paper, which focuses on user interfaces and infrastructures on Weibo. We examine the discursive aspects and digital objects on Weibo and compare how changes of user interface design reflect what the company proposed in the Prospectus and annual reports about its functionality and value for users, advertisers and developers. In analyzing infrastructures on Weibo, we employ digital historical research method to reconstruct a timeline of ongoing and former declared platform-industry partnerships and programs to showcase the dynamics between Weibo and industry partners and how Weibo diversifies its revenue streams from digital marketing.

Moderators
Speakers
GZ

Gabriela Zago

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Communication and Information


Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Sheraton - Salon 6

Attendees (25)