Small Worlds with a    DifferenceNew Gatekeepers and the Filtering of Political         Information on Twitter    full pap...
Political Tweets(German general election 2009)“Ihr werdet euch noch wünschen wir wärenPolitikverdrossen [sic!].” – Max Win...
A Political QuestionAssuming that …the web is a considerable source for politicalinformationeach user only perceives a sel...
Old Answer  Journalists as gatekeepers              vsRecipients as selective readers  (“Uses & Gratifications”)           ...
New EnvironmentNetworked InformationRelevant – social networking sites seeimmense growth in adoptionNew paradigms – real-t...
What We KnowSocial networks tend to exhibit small worldproperties (so do networks of political communication on twitter)In...
The ProblemsContagion model of information spreadLinks can be substitutedBut: Almost everyone has almost no friends (power...
Impact of Key PlayerRemovalComput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34                                                     ...
Impact of Key PlayerRemovalComput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34                                                     ...
Impact of Key PlayerRemoval Comput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34                                                    ...
Finding Key PlayersNeed general measure for a node’s impact onnetwork’s capability to transfer information» Ortiz-Arroyo (...
Centrality EntropyCalculates the entropy of a network = capacityfor information transfer (~ease of transfer)Iteratively re...
ResultsNetwork centrality entropy: 12.1596The most influential node reduces entropy by ~.1when removed (N= 8,609)Highest en...
Political Tweets IIDuring the election campaign, users explicitlycoded party affiliations:#party+ = positive (e.g. cdu+, sp...
User BiasWe calculated the distribution of partyevaluations for outgoing and incoming*directed messagesA simple χ2 test wa...
ResultsA majority of users with testable volume ofmessages displayed a significant (p < 0.001) biasAll testable gatekeepers...
Example Userased the network’sustrate the destructive    Table 2. Political bias of the Twitter account @volker_beck by mb...
TakeawaysThe network of political conversations duringthe general election campaign 2009 wasdominated by a small number of...
TakeawaysIn their tweets, these key users did not mirrortheir network environment but insteadexhibited an individual polit...
TakeawaysThe visibility of political information on twitteris critically dependent on the networkstructure                ...
Thank you for your                                                                                             (early morn...
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Small Worlds With a Difference: New Gatekeepers and the Filtering of Political Information on Twitter

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Political discussions on social network platforms represent an increasingly relevant source of political information, an opportunity for the exchange of opinions and a popular source of quotes for media outlets. We analyzed political communication on Twitter during the run-up to the German general election of 2009 by extracting a directed network of user interactions based on the exchange of political information and opinions. In consonance with expectations from previous research, the resulting network exhibits small-world properties, lending itself to fast and efficient information diffusion. We go on to demonstrate that precisely the highly connected nodes, characteristic for small-world networks, are in a position to exert strong, selective influence on the information passed within the network. We use a metric based on entropy to identify these New Gatekeepers and their impact on the information flow. Finally, we perform an analysis of their input and output of political messages. It is shown that both the New Gatekeepers and ordinary users tend to filter political content on Twitter based on their personal preferences. Thus, we show that political communication on Twitter is at the same time highly dependent on a small number of users, critically positioned in the structure of the network, as well as biased by their own political perspectives.

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Small Worlds With a Difference: New Gatekeepers and the Filtering of Political Information on Twitter

  1. 1. Small Worlds with a DifferenceNew Gatekeepers and the Filtering of Political Information on Twitter full paper at the websci repository Pascal Jürgens Andreas Jungherr Harald Schoen University of Bamberg University of Bamberg University of Mainz andreas.jungherr harald.schoen pascal.juergens@uni-mainz.de @uni-bamberg.de @uni-bamberg.de 1
  2. 2. Political Tweets(German general election 2009)“Ihr werdet euch noch wünschen wir wärenPolitikverdrossen [sic!].” – Max Winde (@343max) rough translation:“Soon you’ll be wishing we were through withpolitics” 2
  3. 3. A Political QuestionAssuming that …the web is a considerable source for politicalinformationeach user only perceives a selection of thisinformationfacts and opinions have the potential to influencerecipients and journalistsQ: what forces influence the visibility of information? 3
  4. 4. Old Answer Journalists as gatekeepers vsRecipients as selective readers (“Uses & Gratifications”) 4
  5. 5. New EnvironmentNetworked InformationRelevant – social networking sites seeimmense growth in adoptionNew paradigms – real-time, recommendedmany-to-many communicationPerceived information varies, selection isdistributedOld answers neglect network effects in the process 5
  6. 6. What We KnowSocial networks tend to exhibit small worldproperties (so do networks of political communication on twitter)Information flows fast and networks arerelatively resistant to (random) disruptionsInformation should be able to move unencumbered 6
  7. 7. The ProblemsContagion model of information spreadLinks can be substitutedBut: Almost everyone has almost no friends (powerlaw), key players have dominant roleInformation relay via key playersNon-Random removal!Problem moves from contagion to disruption(Borgatti’s KPP-Neg problem) 7
  8. 8. Impact of Key PlayerRemovalComput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34 25Fig. 3 Network in which removing the two most central nodes (“i” and “ j”) is not as disruptive as removinga different pair of nodes (“i” and “ j”) Borgatti (2010) p.39 8
  9. 9. Impact of Key PlayerRemovalComput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34 25Fig. 3 Network in which removing the two most central nodes (“i” and “ j”) is not as disruptive as removinga different pair of nodes (“i” and “ j”) Borgatti (2010) p.39 8
  10. 10. Impact of Key PlayerRemoval Comput Math Organiz Theor (2006) 12: 21–34 25Network of 8,609 german Twitter users whoused political hashtags during the generalelection campaign 2009 (June 18 to September 30, 2009)Edges are directed messages (RT and @) whichcontain political hashtags Fig. 3 Network in which removing the two most central nodes (“i” and “ j”) is not as disruptive as removing a different pair of nodes (“i” and “ j”) Borgatti (2010) p.39 8
  11. 11. Finding Key PlayersNeed general measure for a node’s impact onnetwork’s capability to transfer information» Ortiz-Arroyo (2010):Centrality Entropy metric (Hce) 9
  12. 12. Centrality EntropyCalculates the entropy of a network = capacityfor information transfer (~ease of transfer)Iteratively remove nodes and re-calculate todetermine largest impact = key players*(KPP-NEG)Complexity is O(n3)*note: no optimal solution for KPP-Neg 10
  13. 13. ResultsNetwork centrality entropy: 12.1596The most influential node reduces entropy by ~.1when removed (N= 8,609)Highest entropy impact of a node in Borgatti’sexample networks: ~.1 (N=19)Entropy impact declines rapidly (power law?)» A small number of users can have adisproportionally large disruptive impact 11
  14. 14. Political Tweets IIDuring the election campaign, users explicitlycoded party affiliations:#party+ = positive (e.g. cdu+, spd+)#party– = negative (e.g. cdu–, spd–)This allows for the creation of party affiliationprofiles 12
  15. 15. User BiasWe calculated the distribution of partyevaluations for outgoing and incoming*directed messagesA simple χ2 test was used to test for differenceof those distributions*messages from network neighbors 13
  16. 16. ResultsA majority of users with testable volume ofmessages displayed a significant (p < 0.001) biasAll testable gatekeepers (top100) displayed bias sig. bias no sig. bias negative party 2,866 201 evaluations positive party 3,835 34 evaluationsUsers with significantly differing distributions ofincoming and outgoing party evaluations. N = 8,609 14
  17. 17. Example Userased the network’sustrate the destructive Table 2. Political bias of the Twitter account @volker_beck by mber of strongly and the German politician Volker Beck (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) om 5881 to 6574 and time, the average path Outgoing2 Incoming3 CDU (conservatives) 0 511urn to the question of CSU (conservatives) 0 58 ad in the network. In epers were shown to SPD (social democrats) 0 876 ty in their stories inmical selection criteria FDP (liberals) 0 1,269gard to the political Grüne (green party) 19 630 and New Gatekeeperspolitical position more Linke (socialists) 0 267ose messages that thepublished or chose to Piraten (pirate party) 10 4,944 ntly skewed from the y receive? In short, do around a user, or are Of the users in the conversation network, roughly 3,000 hadased on choices by the enough in- and outgoing Twitter messages to statistically test for a allows for a precise bias. For negative mentions of parties, 2,866 users had a significant bias (p < .001) while a mere 201 users did not exhibit a significant bias. It should be noted that a bias could be identified 15rs coded their Twitter
  18. 18. TakeawaysThe network of political conversations duringthe general election campaign 2009 wasdominated by a small number of key userswhich functioned as critical relays within thenetwork 16
  19. 19. TakeawaysIn their tweets, these key users did not mirrortheir network environment but insteadexhibited an individual political bias 17
  20. 20. TakeawaysThe visibility of political information on twitteris critically dependent on the networkstructure 18
  21. 21. Thank you for your (early morning)attention!Key ReferencesBakshy, E, Hofman, J. M., Mason, W. A., and Watts, D. J. 2011. Everyone’s an Influencer: Quantifying Influence on Twitter. Proceedings ofthe Fourth International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (Hong Kong, China, February 09 – 12, 2011). WSDM 2011.Borgatti, S. P.,2005. Centrality and network flow. Social Networks 27, 55-71. DOI - http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2004.11.008.Borgatti, S. P. 2006. Identifying sets of key players in a social network. Computational & Mathematical Organization Theory 12 (1),21-34. DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10588-006-7084-x.Cha, M., Haddadi, H., Benevenuto, F., and Gummadi, K. P. 2010. Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy. InProceedings of the Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (Washington, DC, May 23 – 26, 2010).ICWSM. AAAI Press, Menlo Park, CA, 10-17.Jungherr, A., Jürgens, P., and Schoen, H., 2012. Why the Pirate Party Won the German Election of 2009 or The Trouble WithPredictions: A Response to Tumasjan, A., Sprenger, T. O., Sander, P. G., & Welpe, I. M. ‘Predicting Elections With Twitter: What 140Characters Reveal About Political Sentiment’. Social Science Computer Review. Forthcoming. DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894439311404119.Jürgens, P., and Jungherr, A. 2011. Wahlkampf vom Sofa aus: Twitter im Bundestagswahlkampf 2009. In: Schweitzer, E. J., and Albrecht, S.(eds.). Das Internet im Wahlkampf: Analysen zur Bundestagswahl 2009.VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden, 201-225. DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-92853- 1_8.Ortiz-Arroyo, D. 2010. Discovering Sets of Key Players in Social Networks. In: Abraham, A., Hassanien, A.-E., and Snásel ,V. (eds.).Computational Social Network Analysis. Springer Verlag, Dordrecht et al., 27-46. DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-84882-229-0_2.Shannon, C.E. 1948. A mathematical theory of communication. The Bell System Technical Journal 27, 379– 423, 623–656.Watts, D. J., and Strogatz, S. H. 1998. Collective dynamics of ‘small-world‘ networks. Nature 393, 440-442. DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/30918. 19

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