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One-Sided Conversations: The 2012 Presidential Election on Twitter

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


International Digital Government Research Conference, Shanghai, China (2016)


Technology has been promoted as a way to facilitate interactions
across disparate groups of people. Political discourse has been
historically constrained by geographic proximity of participants.
The introduction of the Internet and specifically social media has
altered these geographic constraints and political discourse is now
one of the most prevalent activities in social media. As more
individuals begin to use technology for political activity,
understanding how the technology is used becomes increasingly
important. Previous research exploring political discourse on
social media has focused on one discrete event or a narrow time
period. This narrow focus limits the understanding of the complex
election environment. This study takes a longitudinal approach to
examine the use of conversational syntactical features in Twitter
derived from a 53 million Twitter message corpus collected
during the 2012 Presidential Election (August 20, 2012 –
November 13, 2012). This study identifies that, although
candidates and media are the most talked about and talked to,
these interactions elicit no response. The lack of response is
counter to many of the perceived benefits of social media. These
findings have implications for understanding how the public uses
social media to engage with political candidates and the
possibilities for how technology could be altered to better
facilitate these interactions.