Iconference 2012 - Tweet, click, vote: Twitter and the 2010 Ottawa election
Context of the study Small number of studies on social media use for political communication, mobilization and persuasion in Canada, especially during politically-sensitive moments; Major trends in research work: 1. A lot of attention devoted to provincial and national political contexts; Geographically-narrow and community-based political contexts largely ignored. 2. Focus on highly-hierarchical top-down information transfers and socio-interactional patterns; 3. Little to no research on French social mediasphere.Sources: Small, 2010;; 2011; Chen, 2010; Verville and Giasson, 2010m Raynauld, Giasson et ak., 2011; Elmer, Langlois et al., 2009
Objectives of the study Detailed assessment of Twitter’s structural characteristics and role in the 2010 Ottawa municipal elections in 2010 (French and English); Description of the different ways social media technologies are impacting of the dynamics of local politicking; Focus on three distinct formal and informal political actors: Candidates; Traditional news media; Netizens.
Methodology Tweets with hashtag #ottvote collected between October 1st and October 25th 2010; Textual content; Technical details. Two open-source data-collection application used: Twapper Keeper (now Hootsuite Archives); The Archivist. Sentiment analysis conducted with the help of a algorithm developed by Crimson Hexagon.
#ottvote activity (October 1st-25th 2010) 9409 tweets (French and English) posted during this period, 70% of them during the final week of the campaign. Larry O’Brien’s board meeting with The #yycvote Citizen 18692 tweets during the last seven days of #ivantamayorwho the electoral race #voteto 33504 tweets during the last week of the election
#ottvote activity (October 1st-25th 2010) Structure of the #ottvote conversation: 1344 individuals posted at least one tweet containing #ottvote hashtag; 80% of the tweets (7527) originated from 22.9% of the #ottvote twitterers (308); 10 most-active twitterers generated 22.3% of all #ottvote tweets; 45% of all twitterers who were involved in the #ottvote conversation only posted one tweet.
#ottvote activity (October 1st-25th 2010) Manifestation of Web-based political astroturfing in the last weeks of the campaign: 800 new Twitter accounts joined the #ottvote conversation in the last four days of the campaign: Activists; Spammers trying to benefit from the popularity of the #ottvote hashtag. 535 new accounts joined the conversation during the previous 20 days Rapid augmentation of the number of political attack tweets.
#ottvote activity (October 1st-25th 2010) Top ten twitterers (volume of tweets): Twitter user Categorization @CliveForMayor Candidate @willsamuel Candidate (staffer for Doucet) @ottawasun Traditional media @OniJoseph Candidate @MacDoaker @davidreveely Traditional media @DenVan Netizen @SunCityHall Traditional media @jchianello Traditional media @josh_greenberg Netizen (researcher)
Presence of candidates in the twitterverse 30% of the Mayoral hopefuls (6 out of 20) had a publicly- available Twitter account that they used with varying levels of intensity:Name Following Followers Listed Number of tweets posted between October 20-25th 2010.Clive Doucet 27 534 60 13Larry O’Brien 1668 871 67 5Jane Sharf 32 33 6 1Charles Taylor 1205 367 36 91Jim Watson 990 2098 192 135Sam Wright 39 25 2 0 As of October 25th 2010 before 11 pm.
Presence of candidates in the twitterverse Other candidates: Percentage with publicly- available accounts on Twitter Ward candidates 44% (48 out of 109) Ottawa-Carleton District School 27.6% (8 out of 29) Board contenders Ottawa Catholic School Board 21.4% (3 out of 14) hopefuls “Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est 13.3% (2 out of 15) de l’Ontario” candidates One ward candidate (Roger Furmanczyk in Ward 2) had an account that was not publicly-available due to privacy restrictions.
Campaigning style on Twitter Majority of candidates (Jim Watson) engaged in professionalized top-down communication, mobilization and persuasion practices: Tweets providing status updates about campaign activities (often with links to pictures); A good night with the team at the River Ward all candidates meet-and-greet. #ottvote http://plixi.com/p/48791903 @jimwatsonottawa, October 5th, 2010
Campaigning style on Twitter Majority of candidates (Jim Watson) engaged in top-down communication, mobilization and persuasion practices: Tweets promoting “controlled” political engagement: Need a ride to the polls ? Call us Important short video to share at 613 835 2400! #ottvote. Not with friends and family - sure where to vote? http://bit.ly/d9wVn7 Dont forget http:// jimwatson.ca to vote!! #OT Tvote @jimwatsonottawa, October @jimwatsonottawa, October 25th, 25th, 2010 2010 Tweets detailing positions on politically-sensitive issues; Etc.
Campaigning style on Twitter Some candidates (Clive Doucet) developed transformative ways to exploit Twitter’s structural and functional particularities: #Askclive (hashtag designed to mobilize the public in an uncontrolled fashion): @CliveDoucet With your Carling @CliveDoucet Will you be Ave. Proposal how do you plan to endorsing any council join Carling with the downtown candidates? #askclive #ottvote center? #askclive #ottvote @tmwayne, September 30th, 2010 @wilfros, September 30th, 2010 Similar grassroots initiatives (#iwantamayorwho).
Political expression (September 1st - October 25th 2010) Web users expressed themselves on a wide range of issues: Bottom-up fragmentation of the political conversation.