Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media https://journalqd.org/ <p>The journal publishes quantitative descriptive social science. It does not publish research that makes causal claims. The journal focuses on evidence that speaks to some substantive question or trend about digital communication processes and media. Articles can use a variety of data types and methods.</p> University of Zurich en-US Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media 2673-8813 Quantifying the “infodemic”: People turned to trustworthy news outlets during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic https://journalqd.org/article/view/3617 <p>How did the 2020 coronavirus pandemic affect people's online news consumption? To understand this, we present a comparative analysis of data on an estimated 905B desktop and mobile visits to news outlets, and 54B Facebook engagements, generated by news outlets in the US, UK, France, and Germany between 2017 and 2021. We find that in 2020 online news consumption increased. Trustworthy news outlets benefited the most from the increase in web traffic. In the UK trustworthy news outlets also benefited the most from the increase in Facebook engagement, but in other countries both trustworthy and untrustworthy news outlets benefited from the increase in Facebook engagement. Overall, untrustworthy news outlets captured 2.3% of web traffic and 14.0% of Facebook engagement, while news outlets regularly publishing false content accounted for 1.4% of web traffic and 6.8% of Facebook engagement. People largely turned to trustworthy news outlets during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.</p> Sacha Altay Rasmus Kleis Nielsen Richard Fletcher Copyright (c) 2022 Sacha Altay, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Richard Fletcher https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-08-26 2022-08-26 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.020 Fame and Ultrafame: Measuring and comparing daily levels of ‘being talked about’ for United States’ presidents, their rivals, God, countries, and K-pop. https://journalqd.org/article/view/2593 <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>When building a global brand of any kind—a political actor, clothing style, or belief system— developing widespread awareness is a primary goal. Short of knowing any of the stories or products of a brand, being talked about in whatever fashion—raw fame—is, as Oscar Wilde would have it, better than not being talked about at all. Here, we measure, examine, and contrast the day-to-day raw fame dynamics on Twitter for US Presidents and major US Presidential candidates from 2008 to 2020: Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. We assign “lexical fame” to be the number and (Zipfian) rank of the (lowercased) mentions made for each individual across all languages. We show that all five political figures have at some point reached extraordinary volume levels of what we define to be “lexical ultrafame”: An overall rank of approximately 300 or less which is largely the realm of function words and demarcated by the highly stable rank of ‘god’. By this measure, ‘trump’ has become enduringly ultrafamous, from the 2016 election on. We use typical ranks for country names and function words as standards to improve perception of scale. We quantify relative fame rates and find that in the eight weeks leading up the 2008 and 2012 elections, ‘obama’ held a 1000:757 volume ratio over ‘mccain’ and 1000:892 over ‘romney’, well short of the 1000:544 and 1000:504 volumes favoring ‘trump’ over ‘hillary’ and ‘biden’ in the 8 weeks leading up to the 2016 and 2020 elections. Finally, we track how only one other entity has more sustained ultrafame than ‘trump’ on Twitter: The K-pop (Korean pop) band BTS. We chart the dramatic rise of BTS, finding their Twitter handle ‘@bts twt’ has been able to compete with ‘a’ and ‘the’, reaching a rank of three at the day scale and a rank of one at the quarter-hour scale. Our findings for BTS more generally point to K-pop’s growing economic, social, and political power.</p> </div> </div> </div> Peter Dodds Joshua Minot Michael Arnold Thayer Alshaabi Jane Adams David Dewhurst Andrew Reagan Christopher Danforth Copyright (c) 2022 Peter Dodds, Joshua Minot, Michael Arnold, Thayer Alshaabi, Jane Adams, David Dewhurst, Andrew Reagan, Christopher Danforth https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-02-27 2022-02-27 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.004 Tweeting on Presidential Coattails: Congressional Candidate Use of Twitter in the 2020 Elections https://journalqd.org/article/view/2876 <p>There is a long history of political science research focused on congressional candidates riding presidential coattails into office. The underlying theory for this potential relationship is relatively simple—when presidential nominees are popular, they can help bolster the electoral fortunes of their down-ballot, co-partisan candidates. If this is right, congressional candidates should be incentivized to publicly align themselves with their co-partisan presidential nominee, albeit in strategic ways. We look for this relationship by constructing an original dataset of congressional candidate Twitter data and identifying the extent to which candidates mention presidential nominees during the 2020 campaign, a behavior we call “tweeting on coattails.” Our data allow us to describe relationships between “tweeting on coattails”, candidate party ID, and district-level electoral conditions. We find that overall, challengers tweeted more than incumbents, but incumbents were more likely to “tweet on coattails.” In addition, candidates of both parties “tweeted on coattails” more frequently if they were running in a district where their party’s nominee is popular. This relationship was not symmetric in magnitude, however, as Republicans were significantly more likely to tweet about Donald Trump than Democrats were to tweet about Joe Biden.</p> Evan Crawford Mikaela Foehr Nathaniel Yee Copyright (c) 2022 Evan Crawford, Mikaela Foehr, Nathaniel Yee https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-03-11 2022-03-11 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.008 The politicization of medical preprints on Twitter during the early stages of COVID-19 pandemic https://journalqd.org/article/view/3007 <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We examine the patterns of medical preprint sharing on Twitter during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis demonstrates a stark increase in attention to medical preprints among the general public since the beginning of the pandemic. We also observe a political divide in medical preprint sharing patterns - a finding in line with previous observations regarding the politicisation of COVID-19-related discussions. In addition, we find that the increase in attention to preprints from the members of the general public coincided with the change in the social media-based discourse around preprints.</span></p> Aleksandra Urman Stefania Ionescu David Garcia Anikó Hannák Copyright (c) 2022 Aleksandra Urman, Stefania Ionescu, David Garcia, Anikó Hannák https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-02-08 2022-02-08 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.003 Successive Cohorts of Twitter Users Show Increasing Activity and Shrinking Content Horizons https://journalqd.org/article/view/3319 <p>The global public sphere has changed dramatically over the past decades: A significant part of public discourse now takes place on algorithmically driven platforms. Despite its growing importance, there is scant large-scale academic research on the long-term evolution of user behaviour on these platforms. Here, we evaluate the behaviour of 600,000 individual Twitter users between 2012 and 2019 and find empirical evidence for <span style="font-size: 0.875rem; font-family: 'Noto Sans', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">a cohort-level acceleration of the way Twitter is used. Across time, we observe changing user-level behaviours: more tweets per time, denser interactions with others via retweets, and shorter content horizons, expressed as an individual's decaying autocorrelation of topics over time. We show that the change in usage patterns is not simply caused by a growing user base. While behaviour remains remarkably stable within each cohort over time, we relate these observations to changing compositions of new </span><span style="font-size: 0.875rem; font-family: 'Noto Sans', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">users with each new cohort containing increasingly active individuals. Our findings complement recent empirical work on social acceleration by tracking cohorts over time, controlling for cohort size, and analyzing their behavioural composition.</span></p> Frederik Wolf Sune Lehmann Philipp Lorenz-Spreen Copyright (c) 2022 Frederik Wolf, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Sune Lehmann https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-07-02 2022-07-02 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.014 Is sharing just a function of viewing? The sharing of political and non-political news on Facebook https://journalqd.org/article/view/3586 <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>How is political news shared online? This fundamental question for political communication research in today’s news ecology is still poorly understood. In particular, very little is known about whether and how news sharing differs from news viewing. Based on a unique dataset of ≈ 870,000 URLs shared ≈ 100 million times on Facebook, grouped by countries, age brackets, and months, we study the correlates of viewing versus sharing of political versus non-political news. We first identify websites that at least occasionally contain news items, and then analyze metrics of the news items published on these websites. We enrich the dataset with natural language processing and super- vised machine learning. We find that political news items are viewed less than non-political news items, but are shared more than one would expect based on their views. Furthermore, the source of a news item and textual features, which are often studied in clickbait research and in commercial A/B testing, matter. Our findings are conditional on age, but are very similar across four different countries (Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Poland). While our research design does not allow for causal claims, our findings suggest that future work is well-advised to both theoretically and methodologically differentiate between factors that may explain (a) viewing versus sharing of news, and (b) political versus non-political news.</p> </div> </div> </div> Damian Trilling Juhi Kulshrestha Claes de Vreese Denis Halagiera Jakub Jakubowski Judith Möller Cornelius Puschmann Agnieszka Stępińska Sebastian Stier Cristian Vaccari Copyright (c) 2022 Damian Trilling, Juhi Kulshrestha, Claes de Vreese, Denis Halagiera, Jakub Jakubowski, Judith Möller, Cornelius Puschmann, Agnieszka Stępińska, Sebastian Stier, Cristian Vaccari https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-07-12 2022-07-12 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.016 Googling for Abortion: Search Engine Mediation of Abortion Accessibility in the United States https://journalqd.org/article/view/2752 <p>Among the myriad barriers to abortion access, crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose an additional difficulty by targeting women with unexpected or “crisis” pregnancies in order to dissuade them from the procedure. Web search engines may prove to be another barrier, being in a powerful position to direct their users to health information, and above all, health services. In this study we ask, to what degree does Google Search provide quality responses to users searching for an abortion provider, specifically in terms of directing them to abortion clinics (ACs) or CPCs. To answer this question, we considered the scenario of a woman searching for abortion services online, and conducted 10 abortion-related queries from 467 locations across the United States once a week for 14 weeks. Overall, among Google’s location results that feature businesses alongside a map, 79.4% were ACs, and 6.9% were CPCs. When an AC was returned, it was the closest known AC location 86.9% of the time. However, when a CPC appeared in a result set, it was the closest one to the search location 75.9% of the time. Examining correlates of AC results, we found that fewer AC results were returned for searches from poorer and rural areas, and those with TRAP laws governing AC facility and clinician requirements. We also observed that Google’s performance on our queries significantly improved following a major algorithm update. These results have important implications concerning health access quality and equity, both for individual users and public health policy.</p> Yelena Mejova Tatiana Gracyk Ronald E. Robertson Copyright (c) 2022 Yelena Mejova, Tatiana Gracyk, Ronald Robertson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-02-23 2022-02-23 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.007 Slanted Narratives, Social Media, and Foreign Influence in Libya https://journalqd.org/article/view/2991 <p>In fragile contexts such as Libya where social media penetration is high, foreign social media outlets with political interests can use social media platforms to influence the country's politics. In this study, we assess how social media content varies by the country of the information producer. We create a dataset of Facebook posts about a strongman’s recent attack on Tripoli (N=16,662). We find that more than half of the posts originated from outside Libya and that posts from countries aligned with the Tripoli-based government are biased in that direction and posts from countries aligned with the eastern-based strongman are biased toward his forces. However, many Pages are not slanted: the correlations are instead driven by a smaller number of hyperpartisan Pages. Our findings have implications for our understanding of how social media content -- especially from abroad -- shapes citizen perceptions of the legitimacy of competing political actors.</p> Shelby Grossman Katie Jonsson Nicholas Lyon Lydia Sizer Copyright (c) 2022 Shelby Grossman, Nicholas Lyon, Lydia Sizer, Katie Jonsson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-06-03 2022-06-03 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.010 Characterizing the Reaction of Doctors to COVID-19 on Twitter https://journalqd.org/article/view/3245 <p>With the surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19, clear public health messaging on social media has become more vital than ever. We demonstrate how unique Twitter data can be used to explore doctors’ reactions to the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We elucidate how discussion differed across locations, over time, and in comparison to non-doctors. Tweets spiked surrounding major events and in locations with rising case numbers. Discussion from doctors initially focused on the origin of the virus in Wuhan, later switching to calls to “stay home.” Doctors tweeted more often about public health and healthcare workers, whereas non-doctors were more likely to tweet about political topics, including China and the Trump administration. The differences in how doctors and non-doctors engage about COVID-19 can provide insight into the similarities and differences in communication between medical experts and the public. Future public health communications may benefit from analyses that compare the social media messages promulgated by various groups.</p> Katie Hsia Edward Kong Copyright (c) 2022 Katie Hsia, Edward Kong https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-04-20 2022-04-20 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.012 Who Shares Conspiracy Theories and Other Misinformation about Covid-19 Online: Survey Evidence from Five Countries https://journalqd.org/article/view/3514 <p>Social media have long been considered a venue in which conspiracy theories and other misinformation incubate and spread. It has been no different during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, understanding who spreads misinformation by sharing it on social media, and why, has been underexplored, especially in a cross-national context. The global nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity to understand the exposure and sharing of the same COVID-19 misinformation across multiple countries. We rely on nationally representative surveys conducted in July of 2020 and January of 2021 in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to begin to understand what characterizes those who are most likely to share misinformation online. We find that Americans are no more likely to encounter prominent COVID-19 misinformation online but are considerably more likely to share it. Americans are less likely to say they share misinformation to make others aware of it or to criticize it, and considerably more likely to say their motivation is to promote it or to demonstrate their support for it. Americans are also more likely to say their motivation is to connect with others. In all countries but Canada, those who trust information from social media are more likely to share misinformation than those who do not trust social media. In all countries, those who have populist attitudes and distrust health officials are more likely to share misinformation than those who do not. In the U.S. in particular, sharing misinformation is associated with trust in government and identifying as conservative. Our results make clear that the United States is an outlier. We theorize why this might be the case.</p> Mark Pickup Dominik Stecuła Clifton van der Linden Copyright (c) 2022 Mark Pickup, Dominik Stecuła, Clifton van der Linden https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-10-28 2022-10-28 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.024 Digital Literacy and Vulnerability to Misinformation https://journalqd.org/article/view/3620 <p>Lack of digital literacy can be a major barrier towards improving the informational well-being of Internet users. Using a field survey of 674 Facebook users in urban Pakistan, we find significant differences in individuals' ability to use common Facebook features. We find that digital literacy is lower among older, less educated, lower income and female users, which points to barriers faced by different demographic groups in improving their digital literacy. Moreover, lower digital literacy is associated with worse truth discernment, lower sharing of true news, emotional reactions to online content, but not more confirmation bias.</p> Ayesha Ali Ihsan Ayyub Qazi Copyright (c) 2022 Ayesha Ali, Ihsan Ayyub Qazi https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-11-08 2022-11-08 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.025 What Circulates on Partisan WhatsApp in India? Insights from an Unusual Dataset https://journalqd.org/article/view/2690 <p><span dir="ltr" style="left: 253.359px; top: 861.329px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999308);">In countries ranging from the Philippines </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 626.895px; top: 861.329px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999501);">to Brazil, political actors have </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 887.777px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999299);">embraced WhatsApp. In India, WhatsApp groups backed </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 689.17px; top: 887.777px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999454);">by political parties are </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 914.225px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999334);">suspected of conveying misinformation and/or of circulating </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 710.273px; top: 914.225px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999068);">hateful content </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 940.673px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999356);">pointed towards minority groups, potentially leading </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 640.264px; top: 940.673px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.997142);">to offline violence. </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 805.195px; top: 940.673px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999061);">They are </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 967.12px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999139);">also seen as one of the reasons for the dominance </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 634.736px; top: 967.12px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999213);">of the ruling party (the BJP). </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 993.568px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99934);">Yet, despite this narrative, we so far know little</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 595.02px; top: 993.568px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999005);">about the content shared on these </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1020.02px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999318);">partisan groups nor about the way in which (mis-)information</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 721.357px; top: 1020.02px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999315);">circulates on them. </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1046.46px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999323);">In this manuscript, we describe the visual content </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 621.328px; top: 1046.46px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999165);">of 533 closed threads </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1072.91px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999242);">maintained by party workers across the state of Uttar </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 653.535px; top: 1072.91px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999337);">Pradesh, collected over a</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1099.36px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999107);">period of 9 months. Manual coding of around 36,000 </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 649.209px; top: 1099.36px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99955);">images allows us to </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1125.81px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99918);">estimate the amount of misinformation/hateful content </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 668.027px; top: 1125.81px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.998951);">on one hand, and </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1152.25px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999029);">partisan content on the other</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 433.516px; top: 1152.25px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.993507);">. Additional matching</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 624.736px; top: 1152.25px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999223);"> of this data with other sources </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 1178.7px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999325);">and analyses based on computer vision techniques in</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 660.303px; top: 1178.7px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999337);">turn allows us to evaluate </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 124.093px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999171);">the extent to which the content posted on WhatsApp threads may serve the </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 150.541px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999146);">interests of the ruling party</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 404.189px; top: 150.541px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.993961);">. Analyses suggest that </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 616.533px; top: 150.541px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999221);">partisan threads contain </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 176.989px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999346);">relatively few hateful or misinformed posts; more </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 614.609px; top: 176.989px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999465);">surprisingly maybe, most </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 203.436px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99933);">content cannot easily be classified as “partisan”. </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 611.338px; top: 203.436px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999168);">While much content </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 229.884px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999389);">appears to be religion-related, which may serve an indirect </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 635.781px; top: 229.884px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999262);">partisan role, the</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 256.332px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999214);"> largest share </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 595.801px; top: 256.332px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99916);">of the content is </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 282.78px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.99946);">more easily classifiable </span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 626.885px; top: 282.78px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999309);">as phatic</span><span dir="ltr" style="left: 180px; top: 309.227px; font-size: 20px; font-family: sans-serif; transform: scaleX(0.999141);"> or entertainment related.</span></p> Simon Chauchard Kiran Garimella Copyright (c) 2022 Simon Chauchard, Kiran Garimella https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-03-02 2022-03-02 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.006 Decentralized yet Unifying: Digital Media and Solidarity in Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Movement https://journalqd.org/article/view/2977 <p>Can decentralized, digitally-enabled movements sustain solidarity over time? What is the role of digital media in such a process? Existing studies point to the tendency of such movements towards fragmentation. We focus on the case the 2019 Anti-ELAB Movement in Hong Kong and one of the primary digital platforms for mobilization, LIHKG. We argue that LIHKG users maintain the dominance of solidarity through a strategy of normative crowding out, whereby users strategically promote solidaristic rhetoric and emotions while sanctioning divisive ones. Empirically, we analyze millions of discussion posts on LIHKG with rich text and emoji data. We first document the rising trend of online solidaristic contents despite contemporaneous tactical radicalization. Regression analyses further show that such a pattern can be produced by user-driven mechanisms in sanctioning solidaristic and divisive contents. This study has implications on the role of digital media and the sustainability of decentralized collective action.</p> Brian Leung Yuan Hsiao Kiran Garimella Copyright (c) 2022 Brian Leung, Yuan Hsiao, Kiran Garimella https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-08-03 2022-08-03 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.017 If a Tree Falls in the Forest: Presidential Press Conferences and Early Media Narratives about the COVID-19 Crisis https://journalqd.org/article/view/3122 <p>Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, as we confronted questions about social distancing, masking wearing, and vaccines, public safety experts warned that the consequences of a misinformed population would be particularly dire due to the serious nature of the threat and necessity of severe collective action to keep the population safe. Thus, the media and the political elites (e.g., President of the United States) who possess the power to set the information agenda around COVID-19 bear a huge responsibility for the general welfare. Through automated text analysis of complete transcripts of national cable, network, and local news, we explore their narratives surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and we characterize the differences in which topics were covered and how they were covered by various media sources. Our analysis reveals polarized narratives around blame, racial and economic disparities, and scientific conclusions about COVID-19. Among the various agenda-setting mechanisms available to the president is daily press conferences, which provide a unique opportunity to leverage public exposure, accelerated by the state of crisis. We found both resonance and contrast between the narratives of media and President press conferences. However, as online search data revealed, public information-seeking behavior resemble media coverage more than the President's messages.</p> Masha Krupenkin Kai Zhu Dylan Walker David Rothschild Copyright (c) 2022 Masha Krupenkin, Kai Zhu, Dylan Walker, David Rothschild https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-01 2022-05-01 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.011 Content Moderation As a Political Issue: The Twitter Discourse Around Trump's Ban https://journalqd.org/article/view/3424 <p>Content moderation — the regulation of the material that users create and disseminate online — is an important activity for all social media platforms. While routine, this practice raises significant questions linked to democratic accountability and civil liberties. Following the decision of many platforms to ban Donald J. Trump in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, content moderation has increasingly become a politically contested issue. This paper studies that process with a focus on the public discourse on Twitter. <span style="font-size: 0.875rem; font-family: 'Noto Sans', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The analysis includes over 9 million tweets and retweets posted by over 3 million unique users between January 2020 and April 2021. First, the salience of content moderation was driven by left-leaning users, and "Section 230" was the most important topic across the ideological spectrum. Second, stance towards Section 230 was relatively volatile and increasingly polarized. These findings highlight relevant elements of the ongoing process of political contestation surrounding this issue, and provide a descriptive foundation to understand the politics of content moderation.</span></p> Meysam Alizadeh Fabrizio Gilardi Emma Hoes K. Jonathan Klüser Maël Kubli Nahema Marchal Copyright (c) 2022 Meysam Alizadeh, Fabrizio Gilardi, Emma Hoes, K. Jonathan Klüser, Maël Kubli, Nahema Marchal https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-10-04 2022-10-04 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.023 Digital Advertising in U.S. Federal Elections, 2004-2020 https://journalqd.org/article/view/3608 <p>Digital advertising is now a commonplace feature of political communication in the United States. Previous research has documented the key innovations associated with digital political advertising and its consequences for campaigns and elections. However, a comprehensive picture of political spending on digital advertising remains elusive because of the challenges associated with accessing and analyzing data. We address this challenge with a unique dataset (N=3,639,166) derived from over 13 million expenditure records reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) between 2004 and 2020. Employing a machine learning model to classify expenditures into nine categories including digital ads and services, this paper makes four key observations. First, 2020 was a watershed election in the growth of digital campaign spending. Second, there are clear partisan differences in the resources allocated to digital advertising. Third, platform companies play a central role in an otherwise partisan market for digital ads and services. Fourth, digital platforms and consultants occupy a distinct ideological niche within each party.</p> Adam Sheingate James Scharf Conner Delahanty Copyright (c) 2022 Adam Sheingate, James Scharf, Conner Delahanty https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-11-23 2022-11-23 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.026 The Social, Civic, and Political Uses of Instagram in Four Countries https://journalqd.org/article/view/2558 <p>Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly users. Yet, little is known about how citizens engage with this platform. We use survey data (representative on age and gender) to examine citizens’ Instagram use in four countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France (n=6,291). The survey was administered to an online panel matched to the age and gender profile of each country (September to November 2019). Across the four countries, about 40% of respondents used Instagram. This platform is especially popular among young adults who cultivate larger networks compared to older adults. Compared to older adults who use Instagram, younger users are more likely to follow a news organization. We employ these usage patterns to infer different motivations for use, drawing on the uses and gratification approach. We find that this approach is most useful for understanding cross-national and gender differences. In particular, Americans cultivate larger social networks on Instagram compared to citizens from other countries, implying greater social interaction motives. Males are more likely to follow news organizations compared to females, which implies they have more informational motives for Instagram use. Socioeconomic differences in Instagram adoption and types of uses are much smaller than the differences marked by age, gender, and country. This paper establishes the importance of Instagram use among citizens in four Western countries. Furthermore, we offer insights into the segments of the population that are intense users of Instagram, as well as different motivations for use.</p> Shelley Boulianne Christian P. Hoffmann Copyright (c) 2022 Shelley Boulianne, Christian P. Hoffmann https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-01-09 2022-01-09 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.001 Competition in the Telecom Sector on Facebook in Bangladesh: Building Customer Relationships https://journalqd.org/article/view/2835 <p align="justify">This study examines the Facebook pages of all four telecom operators in Bangladesh to understand their communication strategies on Facebook and their customers’ engagement patterns. More specifically, this article explores the companies’ communication strategies deployed in terms of five aspects: i) visual vs. textual content; ii) cultural elements; iii) purposes of posts; iv) intimacy with customers; and v) use of different languages. This research also explores customers’ engagement patterns relating to the number of reactions (e.g., likes), comments, and shares. Analyzing their Facebook posts from 2013–2017, this quantitative descriptive study finds that the corporations used Facebook not only to disseminate information but also to build communities around their brands by embedding visual content and cultural elements heavily in status messages. This article also discusses the real-world implications of these findings.</p> Mohammad Yousuf Mohammad Ali Copyright (c) 2022 Mohammad Ali https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-09-11 2022-09-11 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.022 Concentration of online news traffic and publishers' reliance on platform referrals: Evidence from passive tracking data in the UK https://journalqd.org/article/view/3006 <p>Attention to online news is highly concentrated and increasingly shaped by platforms including search engines, social media, and aggregators that many use to find and access online news, potentially leaving some publishers highly reliant on platforms, raising the possibility of what has been called "platformization" or "infrastructural capture". We use passive tracking data from the UK to measure how concentrated attention to online news is across different types of access (direct, social media, search engines, aggregators) and to examine how reliant different individual news publishers are on platform referrals. We find that direct traffic to news sites is highly concentrated, whereas all the distributed forms of access analyzed have much lower levels of concentration. While we find that platform referrals are important for most publishers, we identify different profiles in terms of the volume of and reliance on referrals, suggesting that while some are very dependent on platforms, others are not. Overall, we find that while platforms themselves are part of the winner-takes-most concentration of attention overall on the internet, they simultaneously seem to contribute to less concentrated markets for attention to online news.</p> Rasmus Kleis Nielsen Richard Fletcher Copyright (c) 2022 Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Richard Fletcher https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-07-20 2022-07-20 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.015 People are more engaged on Facebook as they get older, especially in politics: evidence from users in 46 countries https://journalqd.org/article/view/3317 <p align="justify">A growing body of literature has noted an age pattern in the sharing of false news in social media, with older people sharing more often misinformation than younger users. In this article we supplement this literature by documenting two distinct but complementary phenomena: Facebook users share more content as they get older regardless of whether it is political; and that this increment in sharing activity as age increases is more intense with political and partisan URLs. Based on the Facebook Privacy-Protected Full URLs Data Set, a vast Facebook database with demographic information of those who saw and shared links on Facebook in 46 countries, we investigate the impact of age on link-sharing activity. We found that in 43 countries, the average age of people who shared links was considerably higher than the age of those who saw the links. In a more detailed study, with Facebook users in South America, we find that the average age increases consecutively in the sharing of non-political content, in the sharing of political content, in the sharing of partisan sites and in the sharing of right-leaning partisan sites.</p> Marcio Moretto Pablo Ortellado Gabriel Kessler Gabriel Vommaro Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga Juan Pablo Luna Eduarth Heinen Laura Fernanda Cely Sergio Toro Copyright (c) 2022 Marcio Moretto, Pablo Ortellado, Gabriel Kessler, Gabriel Vommaro, Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga, Juan Pablo Luna, Eduarth Heinen, Laura Fernanda Cely, Sergio Toro https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-09-07 2022-09-07 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.018 Hate speech’s double damage: A semi-automated approach toward direct and indirect targets https://journalqd.org/article/view/3528 <p>Democracies around the world have been facing increasing challenges with hate speech online as it contributes to a tense and thus less discursive public sphere. In that, hate speech online targets free speech both directly and indirectly, through harassments and explicit harm as well as by informing a vicious environment of irrationality, misrepresentation, or disrespect. Consequently, platforms have implemented varying means of comment-moderation techniques, depending both on policy regulations and on the quantity and quality of hate speech online. This study seeks to provide descriptive measures between direct and indirect targets in light of different incentives and practices of moderation on both social media and news outlets. Based on three distinct samples from German Twitter, YouTube, and a set of four news outlets, it applies semi-automated content analyses using a set of five cross-sample classifiers. Thereby, the largest amounts of visible hate speech online depict rather implicit devaluations of ideas or behavior. More explicit forms of hate speech online, such as insult, slander, or vulgarity, are only rarely observable and accumulate around certain events (Twitter) or single videos (YouTube). Moreover, while hate speech on Twitter and YouTube tends to target particular groups or individuals, hate speech below news articles shows a stronger focus on debates. Potential reasons and implications are discussed in light of political and legal efforts in Germany.</p> Mario Haim Elisa Hoven Copyright (c) 2022 Mario Haim, Elisa Hoven https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-03-07 2022-03-07 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.009 Five Hundred Days of Farsi Twitter https://journalqd.org/article/view/2693 <p>International media was quick to dub the Iranian Green Movement a “Twitter revolution” when it erupted in the summer of 2009. State violence against protestors was captured in real time and broadcast worldwide on social media, providing an early example of a regime's helplessness at locking down a narrative in the face of ubiquitous smart phones. Over a decade later, nearly all foreign social media remain officially blocked in Iran, yet Iranians evade state suppression and remain connected to the global community. This article introduces a new dataset of all Farsi-language tweets since September 2019. To date, this amounts to the full text and associated metadata of over 500 million tweets and the evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of this content originates from within the borders of Iran. The study describes the scope of Iran's continued connection to the global community via Twitter, descriptively explores the content of that social media, evaluates what this means for Iranian politics and society, and explores its broader implications for researchers in the age of social media. In particular, we argue that the demonstrated ability to collect the voices of citizens, even from one of the most repressive digital regimes in the world, provides an invaluable framework for scholars with even minimal resources to undertake large-scale digital ethnography.</p> Layla Hashemi Steven Wilson Constanza Sanhueza Copyright (c) 2022 Layla Hashemi, Steven Wilson, Constanza Sanhueza https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-04-14 2022-04-14 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.005 A Note on Increases in Inattentive Online Survey-Takers Since 2020 https://journalqd.org/article/view/2985 <p>Lucid, a popular source of online convenience survey samples, has seen a significant increase in inattentive respondents since 2020. Inattentive participants – respondents who incorrectly answer directed query attention check questions – may be introducing substantial measurement error and attenuation bias. Using data from 152,967 survey respondents across multiple studies conducted between January 2020 and June 2021, we find that inattentive respondents report less reliable demographic data, less stable responses, and are systematically different from attentive respondents. We find some evidence of attenuation bias and mixed evidence that data quality has decreased slightly since 2020 even after filtering for inattentive respondents. We conclude that researchers using Lucid should report if they screened on attentiveness and consider replicating any null results. Such an unexpected increase in inattentiveness in a widely-used platform suggests that future researchers relying on online convenience survey samples should continuously assess data quality.</p> John Ternovski Lilla Orr Copyright (c) 2022 John Ternovski, Lilla Orr, Joshua Kalla, Peter Aronow https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-02-07 2022-02-07 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.002 Repeat Spreaders and Election Delegitimization https://journalqd.org/article/view/3137 <p align="justify">This paper introduces and presents a first analysis of a uniquely curated dataset of misinformation, disinformation, and rumors spreading on Twitter about the 2020 U.S. election. Previous research on misinformation—an umbrella term for false and misleading content—has largely focused either on broad categories, using a finite set of keywords to cover a complex topic, or on a few, focused case studies, with increased precision but limited scope. Our approach, by comparison, leverages real-time reports collected from September through November 2020 to develop a comprehensive dataset of tweets connected to 456 distinct misinformation stories from the 2020 U.S. election (our <em>ElectionMisinfo2020 </em>dataset), 307 of which sowed doubt in the legitimacy of the election. By relying on real-time incidents and streaming data, we generate a curated dataset that not only provides more granularity than a large collection based on a finite number of search terms, but also an improved opportunity for generalization compared to a small set of case studies. Though the emphasis is on misleading content, not all of the tweets linked to a misinformation story are false: some are questions, opinions, corrections, or factual content that nonetheless contributes to misperceptions<span style="color: #222222;">. </span>Along with a detailed description of the data, this paper provides an analysis of a critical subset of election-delegitimizing misinformation in terms of size, content, temporal diffusion, and partisanship. We label key ideological clusters of accounts within interaction networks, describe common misinformation narratives, and identify those accounts which repeatedly spread misinformation. We document the asymmetry of misinformation spread: accounts associated with support for President Biden shared stories in <em>ElectionMisinfo2020</em> far less than accounts supporting his opponent. That asymmetry remained among the accounts who were repeatedly influential in the spread of misleading content that sowed doubt in the election: all but two of the top 100 ‘repeat spreader’ accounts were supporters of then-President Trump. These findings support the implementation and enforcement of ‘strike rules’ on social media platforms, directly addressing the outsized role of repeat spreaders.</p> Ian Kennedy Morgan Wack Andrew Beers Joseph S. Schafer Isabella Garcia-Camargo Emma S. Spiro Kate Starbird Copyright (c) 2022 Ian Kennedy, Morgan Wack, Andrew Beers, Joeseph Schafer, Isabella Garcia-Camargo, Emma Spiro, Kate Starbird https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-06-21 2022-06-21 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.013 Individual users' participation on political Facebook pages https://journalqd.org/article/view/3513 <p>Social media platforms such as Facebook enable citizens to participate in politics by engaging with content from parties and politicians. Most research has described these activites by means of survey self-reports, smaller sample studies which combined surveys and digital trace data, or larger-scale aggregate digital trace data. The current literature lacks a large-scale descriptive account of individual users' interactions with political content. We analyze a large-scale collection of individual-level Facebook user data from the German federal election year 2017. The data contain millions of interactions by over 2.5 million unique users on 320 Facebook pages of major parties in Germany. They include almost all possible ways to publicly interact with content on these pages and as such cannot be collected today due to newer access restrictions. A large share of users participated only once, especially on the top politicians' pages, or interacted only with a single page. However, we also found a sizeable group of users who were active on many different pages even across party boundaries, and that these users were responsible for a majority of comments and reactions on almost all pages. In addition, there were substantial differences in user participation on the main national party pages and the ones of top politicians on the one hand, and the less prominent pages on the other hand. Our large-scale quantitative description provides context for previous and future smaller-scale in-depth analyses.</p> Yannick Winkler Marko Bachl Michael Scharkow Copyright (c) 2022 Yannick Winkler, Marko Bachl, Michael Scharkow https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-08-09 2022-08-09 2 10.51685/jqd.2022.019