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Political Communication and Influence through Microblogging--An Empirical Analysis of Sentiment in Twitter Messages and Retweet Behavior

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2 Author(s)

Microblogging services such as Twitter are said to have the potential for increasing political participation. Given the feature of 'retweeting' as a simple yet powerful mechanism for information diffusion, Twitter is an ideal platform for users to spread not only information in general but also political opinions through their networks as Twitter may also be used to publicly agree with, as well as to reinforce, someone's political opinions or thoughts. Besides their content and intended use, Twitter messages ('tweets') also often convey pertinent information about their author's sentiment. In this paper, we seek to examine whether sentiment occurring in politically relevant tweets has an effect on their retweetability (i.e., how often these tweets will be retweeted). Based on a data set of 64,431 political tweets, we find a positive relationship between the quantity of words indicating affective dimensions, including positive and negative emotions associated with certain political parties or politicians, in a tweet and its retweet rate. Furthermore, we investigate how political discussions take place in the Twitter network during periods of political elections with a focus on the most active and most influential users. Finally, we conclude by discussing the implications of our results.

Published in:

System Science (HICSS), 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on

Date of Conference:

4-7 Jan. 2012