Differentiated Information Flows: Social Media Curation Practices in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections

April 13th, 2020

The CCDS is pleased announce that a paper co-authored by our Director, Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Co-Director, Jeff Hemsley is featured in the International Journal of Communication (IJoC). They along with Sam Jackson, University of Albany delve into linking practices of U.S. presidential candidates running in the 2016 campaign. The full paper can be accessed here.

This research was supported in part by a fellowship from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, and the Center for Computational and Data Science at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Yatish Hegde, Patrícia Rossini, Daniela Fernandez Espinosa, and Nancy McCracken. 

Overview

Digital media enable political actors to engage in strategic information curation. This study analyzes the linking practices of U.S. presidential candidates running in the 2016 election. Using exploratory data analysis and confirmatory tests of hyperlinked domains, we find that presidential candidates curate information flows that are distinct by party and even within party. Though candidates in both parties share a common set of links primarily via mainstream media outlets, Republican candidates also link to a set of news and information sites that their Democratic counterparts do not link to, and vice versa. Republican candidates have distinct hyperlinking practices during the surfacing and primary stages of the election cycle relative to other Republican candidates, suggesting that just as candidates differentiate themselves in terms of issue ownership, they also do so in terms of information ownership. Finally, the candidates use Twitter and Facebook differently in terms of the frequency of links and the diversity of those links.