Who Did Spanish Politicians Start Following on Twitter? Homophilic Tendencies among the Political Elite

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Abstract

Political communication has undergone transformations since the advent of digital networks, but do these new platforms promote interactivity and a public sphere with a more democratic political debate or do they function as echo chambers of the elites? In this research, we study the accounts that Spanish politicians started following on Twitter from 2017 to 2020, with the aim of understanding whether they reproduce patterns of homophilic tendencies or if they give space to new voices. To do so, we selected a sample from the deputies that were in the Spanish parliament during the four years of the study and through a big data and machine learning software, we identified the accounts they started following as a network and categorized them. We combined manual and computational data analysis methods and used data visualization techniques to look for patterns and trends. The results suggest that the Spanish political elites exhibit homophilic behaviors in terms of account types and geographic proximity and present a gender balance among the accounts. This study also suggests that the behavior of the political elite presented particularities during the electoral period, where we can observe an intensification of the homophilic patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number292
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Twitter
  • data visualization
  • digital communication
  • digital social networks
  • echo chambers
  • homophily
  • political communication
  • power elites
  • social media
  • social network analysis

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