Pablo Barberá gave a talk today on his research on social media. Pablo is a Research Fellow at the NYU Center for Data Science, and in July 2016 he will be joining the faculty of the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California (more on his bio). The title and abstract of his talk are below.
Social media data as digital footprints. Two political science applications.
Politicians and citizens increasingly engage in political conversations on social media outlets such as Twitter, leaving “digital footprints” that can be used to examine relevant questions in political science. In this talk I will discuss two applications that rely on this new source of information about political behavior. First, I will present a new method to estimate the ideological positions of political actors and citizens based on the structure of the Twitter networks in which they are embedded. This method is then used to examine to what extent online communication on Twitter resembles an “echo chamber,” where individuals are only exposed to information that reinforces their ideological beliefs. In a second application, I show that tweets from legislators and citizens can be categorized into topics to measure issue salience. I then leverage this dataset to examine to what extent legislators are responsive to their constituents’ preferences in their public communication, and also whether some specific groups of citizens are more influential in shaping the political agenda.