Live-tweeting a presidential primary debate: Exploring new political conversations

Full article citation: Hawthorne, J., Houston, J.B. and McKinney, M.S, (2013) “Live-tweeting a presidential primary debate: Exploring new political conversations.” Social Science Computer Review, 31(5), 552-562. doi:10.1177/0894439313490643.

Abstract: Twitter offers a function called live-tweeting that allows users to communicate about events with each other in real time. This study examines the use of live-tweeting during a 2012 Republican Primary Debate by examining the 181,780 tweets posted during the nationally televised debate. Livetweeting offers users an opportunity to engage in public conversation about political events and thus potentially influence the framing of what occurred. Our study examines whether citizens utilize the opportunity to contribute to the political narrative or if elite users dominate political conversations through an analysis of tweets used by both groups. Findings show that there were very few differences between the elite and nonelite social media conversations and that elite users views were spread farther than nonelite views.

Keywords: social media, presidential debates, 2012 election, public sphere, framing

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