Negativity in a Twitter Age: How Politicians are Adapting to Social MediaSept. 25, 2013
Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez and graduate students, Liz Cohen and Claire Fournon, had an article titled, "Negativity in a Twitter Age: How Politicians are Adapting to Social Media," published in Mass Communication and Journalism Journal.
Their study investigated negative campaigning and issue preferences as reflected in the use of Twitter posts released during the 2011-2012 presidential primaries. Negative political campaigning and policy-centered voting have become more prevalent in recent years, especially with the advent of the Internet and the subsequent increase in media sources such as blogs and social media platforms. Findings indicated that runner-up candidates were not more likely to use negativity in tweets as indicated in previous studies.
Politicians tweeted about family, their personal opinions on important matters, to announce media appearances, and to call on the public to take action and/or to become more involved in political matters. Tweets are meant to be quick, personal messages, conversation starters. Therefore, candidates used them to interest potential voters in their political platform.
Study findings are particularly relevant given the tremendous popularity of the Web. Some observers predict user generated content (UGC) such as YouTube videos, websites, blogs and other forms of mass media may eventually displace traditional broadcast media as the main outlet for news and entertainment. Politicians are their own gatekeepers in social media, and thus they can discuss whatever they like on their Twitter feed. Tweets are free, highly visible and effective if they are used tactfully.