FRAGMENTATION OF ONLINE POLITICALDELIBERATION IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE POLISHPRESIDENTIAL AIRPLANE CRASHMIKOŁAJ HNATIUK, DOMINIK BATORSKIUNIVERSITY OF WARSAW
• Major political events tend to change the politicalstances of the individuals• Notion of "Affair" (Dreyfus affair: Luc Boltanski): Aprolonged dispute about kind of events that tend todivide disputants ideologically• How does the communication network changeunder the influence of an important event - the"affair"?
• Russia is responsible for the main investigationwhich raises controversy, due to the complicatednature of relations between the two countries• Shortly after the crash, conspiracy theories start toemerge• Those theories gained most popularity among theright-wing, due to the political affiliation of thedeceased president
• Survey from Feb13: 33% people believe that the Presidentsdeath could have been an assassination• A major Polish newspaper („Rzeczpospolita”) reinforced thosebeliefs by publishing in 2012 an article stating that traces ofexplosives have been found on the airplane wreck
• Structure of the debate after the crash: Did thediscussion about the plane crash result insegregation in communication networks?• Segregation in media usage: Has the debatefollowing the crash caused changes in informationsources which people select?
• Major polish political blogging site: Salon24.pl• Over 80 000 posts written between Jan 2010 and Oct 2010from almost 7 000 blogs• Over a 1 million comments, with a timestamp• Extraction of two main datasetso Longitudinal network of comments (as opposed tonetwork of links from blogrolls)o 2-mode network of users and hyperlinks from postsreferring to the external sources of information (outsideof salon24.pl)
Hypothesis: Groups of bloggers divided according topolitical beliefs became more segregated after theplane crash• Group-level colemans index to measure to what extentgroups of bloggers are segregated• 1: perfect segregation, -1: perfect „integration”• 10 networks representing 10 months
• Manual coding of subset of 225 most active blogs 3dimensions of political beliefs:o Economic (interventionism vs free market)o Moral beliefs (pro-life vs pro-choice etc.)o Does she/he believe in a conspiracy around the plane crashWe have read about 3000 posts from those blogs
Groups divided interms of theirapproach to the„Assasinationhypothesis”
Groups divided interms of their moralbeliefs.Impact of the crashseems stronger.This is surpising,because weexpected that themost „separatingissue” would be theapproach to the„A.H.”
Groups divided interms of theireconomic viewsImpact is weak
A group of bloggers that believe in „theassassination hyp.” did become more segregatedfrom the „nonbelievers” For other groups, the level of segregation remainedstable Considering the other two dimensions of politicalbeliefs, we can conclude that right-wing bloggers didbecome more segrageted from other groups This right-wing group has created their own space inthe way that Sunstein (2001) described.
• General question: Internet as a deliberative platform?• „Daily Me” (Negroponte, 1995): internet as an ideal "consumer market"vs "cyber-balkanization" (Cass Sunstein 2001)• Adamic and Glance (2005): analysis of links between blogs identifiedpatterns of homophily and segregation. Similar research: Hargittai,Gallo i Kane (2008) oraz Wallsten (2010)• Homophily and segregation -> Polarization (Hindman, 2008) (Lawrence,Sides, & Farrell, 2010)• Structure of network: power-law distribution of actors reducesprobability to be heard at all (Adamic,Barabási, et al. 2000)• We analyze the impact of „discursive events” on actual communicationstructure and find that homophily increased under that impact.
• We analyze the structure of political debate after the Polishpresidential airplane crash in April 2010• Using data from major Polish political blogging site (salon24.pl) weask questions about the dynamics of segregation that appearedafter the crash• We conclude that segregation increased rapidly after the crash,however this is true only for the right-wing bloggers and those whosupport the „Assassination hyp.”• Despite that access to information is now more open than ever thatdoes not necessarily lead to a more inclusive discussion. Peoplethat are free to choose with whom to communicate most frequentlywill choose people with opinions similar to their own.