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Twitter and global political crises

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journal contribution
posted on 25.01.2018 by Ben O'Loughlin, Cristian Vaccari, Billur A. Ozgul, James Dennis
This study examines social media responses to the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks by the Islamic State. First impressions of over 2,000,000 tweets containing hashtags #PrayforParis and #PrayforSyria suggested a conflation of three issues: (1) Migration: were the attackers homegrown or carrying overseas passports? (2) Violence: why was Paris attacked and why is France bombing the Islamic State? (3) Media: what role should mainstream and social media play during events that are local and global, unique and yet part of a series? However, instead of conflating media, migration and terrorism, we found users of both hashtags discussing Syria, foreign policy, and justice and fairness. Building on previous research exploring how social media affordances encourage certain communication behaviors, we test whether Twitter's reply function is more conducive to antagonistic comments than retweets, which we hypothesise allow for an expression of solidarity and universalism. Conversations about Syria contain greater antagonism, explained by aspects of the tweet, user and network effects. The #PrayforParis and #PrayforSyria conversations exhibit neither the contestation of global attention nor a media-driven cycle of insecurity. The high frequency of agonistic and non-visual tweets, particularly about Syria, suggests a robust exchange of claims, refuting pessimistic depictions of Twitter as a space for superficiality and hate.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Volume

10

Issue

2-3

Pages

175 - 203

Citation

O'LOUGHLIN, B. ... et al, 2017. Twitter and global political crises. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 10 (2-3), pp. 175-203.

Publisher

© Brill

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1163/18739865-01002006

Acceptance date

15/09/2016

Publication date

2017-01-01

ISSN

1873-9857

eISSN

1873-9865

Language

en

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