Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Pascal Lupien (University of Alberta)
Standing and Popularity : Does Twitter Replicate Traditional Hierarchies Among MPs in Québec?: Marie Neihouser (Université Laval), Justin Carrier (University of Toronto) Abstract: Nowadays, social networks are heavily used by elected officials. An abundant literature has discussed the use of Twitter by politicians. However, few of these studies have analyzed Twitter use amongst parliamentarians: Who follows who; and who is followed by who? Do popular politicians retweet messages posted by less popular politicians? Are classical top-down hierarchies reproduced on Twitter? Our hypothesis is that Twitter hierarchy reproduces the offline reality concerning the practices of following/followed. But things seem to be different concerning the practices of retweets. Whereas structural positions on the political sphere are important for the former, the activity online is more important for the later.
Our empirical analysis explores the case of Québec. We collected all tweets (n=20,386) and retweets (n=32,342 among other members of Parliament) of the 116 MPs in Québec between January 20 and September 20 2017. We use graph theory to position these 116 MPs. We also use classic measures of online (such as the following-follower ratio and numbers of retweets from all Twitter) and offline (the number of mandates, previous roles as Chairman of a committee, bills introduced and ministerial roles) hierarchies. We compare these measures to verify if traditional hierarchy is reproduced. Our first results show that, with a few exceptions, traditional offline hierarchy is very closely correlated to hierarchy on Twitter (e.g. Ministers are followed much more by other parliamentarians and deputies who speak a lot in Parliament also are popular online).
The Framing of Racist Ideas: The Case of the Soldiers of Odin in Canada: Audrey Gagnon (Université Concordia) Abstract: In April 2017, the anti-immigrant group Soldiers of Odin Canada split from its counterpart in Finland while denouncing its racist agenda. In their formal discourse, the Canadian group presents itself as a “non-profit organization that helps their local communities with charity, good will, and believes in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms” and that “accepts members of different races, religions, backgrounds, and creeds”. Yet, many in the media cast doubt on the group’s intents, especially in regards to their attitudes about immigrants. Moreover, a review of the Soldiers of Odin’s Facebook page suggests that white nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric does remain an important part of its supporters’ discourse. This raises the following questions: To what extent does the official discourse promoted by the Soldiers of Odin differ from the discourse of its private members? And how can we account for these differences? This study attempts to answer these questions by conducting a media discourse analysis of the Soldiers of Odin’s official declarations in various Canadian news media and a discourse analysis of Soldiers of Odin’s supporters in Facebook postings. We suggest that the strategic process of framing, which is intended to legitimate the group’s presence and action, helps explain the gap between the Soldiers of Odin’s formal and informal discourses.
Digital Privacy and Trust: Lessons From Feminist Hacktivist Counterpublics: Isadora Borges Monroy (McGill University), Edana Beauvais (McGill University) Abstract: In 2013, Snowden revealed evidence of mass government surveillance and in 2018, it came to light that Cambridge Analytica scrapped millions of Facebook users’ personal data. Privacy is as crucial a component of trust in digital technologies (Schneier 2015, Solove 2011). Because “cyberspace” is no longer a separate world we can easily log out of, deteriorating trust not only lowers online social capital but threatens social capital offline. In the midst of a digital revolution that is threatening to undermine the very possibility of privacy, how can citizens of democratic countries regain control over their online private lives? Furthermore, what are the distributional effects of technological changes in surveillance when privacy rights are diminished? Are the historically disempowered – including youth, visible minorities, women, and queer persons – more vulnerable to the harms of eroding privacy? In this paper we theorize privacy as a politically constructed concept. We use a mixed-method approach – using qualitative data from semi-structured interviews and quantitative data from online surveys – to identify how participants in grassroots social movements are seeking to construct the concept of privacy through their activism, and how this impacts social capital. We engage hactivists in grassroots groups dedicated to digital privacy, including Crypto.Québec, crypto café, FouLab, FouFem, and HTMlles, FemHack, and PyLadies. We over-sample groups dedicated to creating spaces for female-identified and queer voices to clarify how these historically disempowered group members – who are often underrepresented in politics and tech – are trying to construct the concept of privacy.
L'usage des médias sociaux par les organisations politiques en Tunisie: le cas des municipales de 2018: Bader Ben Mansour (Université Laval) Abstract: Le numérique a joué un rôle important dans différents événements internationaux qui ont marqué le champ des sciences sociales et politiques allant des soulèvements populaires du « printemps arabe » en 2011 à l’élection de Donald Trump en 2016. Ces évènements ont alimenté l’intérêt porté à la manière dont le numérique pourrait influencer la vie civique et politique. Les médias sociaux ont ouvert dans le domaine de la recherche en communication politique la question de savoir si, en pratique, ils ont créé un nouvel espace public de participation et d’interaction entre les élites politiques et les citoyens. Bien que la question de leur usage par les candidats et les partis politiques ait suscité l’intérêt de plusieurs chercheurs en science politique, ces derniers ont surtout investigué jusqu’ici les campagnes électorales faites à l’échelon national, dans les démocraties établies. La Tunisie, pays qui a connu ce qu’on a appelé le printemps arabe en 2011, est une démocratie qui vient à peine de naître et la rareté de ce phénomène justifie en soi que l’on s’y intéresse et qu’on le documente, notamment sous l’angle de la communication politique numérique. Nous essayerons de voir dans quelle mesure, dans un cadre d’élections locales et dans une démocratie émergente, les partis politiques vont créer un environnement participatif et interactif dans leur usage des médias sociaux.
Une analyse de contenu quantitative des comptes Twitter et Facebook de 6 partis politiques a été réalisée pendant la période de campagne électorale pour les premières élections municipales à l’ère démocratique.
Coalition Formation in Bella Twittalia - Convoluted Consultations and Elite Messaging from Lega and Movimento5Stelle: Alexander Beyer (Simon Fraser University) Abstract: Italy's national election in March 2018 led to massive gains for the far-right nationalist Lega and the ideologically less defined, highly populist Five-Star Movement (M5S). After a long and convoluted process with late-night negotiations, dramatic walkouts, and repeated calls for snap polls, Lega and M5S formed a previously highly unlikely coalition.
During the run-up to the election and during the more than two months it took to form government both parties made extensive use of social media channels for campaigning, spinning, and a highly personalised style of politics. Both party leaders Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio supplied hundred thousands of their followers with 280-character messages during this process.
This project focuses on the effectiveness of this elite messaging. Over four months of campaigning and consultations I collected over 250 GB of tweets related to Italian politics. With these data I am able to determine if over the course of political compromising between both parties the Twitter-ecospheres of both parties converged as well. I will describe the dynamics over time, and identify the lifecycles of central topics during campaigning and after the election. Most importantly, I evaluate if the structure of social media interactions changed itself. I ask if the interactions between followers of Lega and M5S were influenced by interactions between party elites. To do so, my paper adapts theories on social movement formation and tests them on a scale that was, until very recently, not available to researchers.