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Social media, sentiment and public opinions: Evidence from #Brexit and #USElection

Author

Listed:
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko

    (Department of Economics, University of California (Berkeley))

  • Tho Pham

    (School of Management, Swansea University)

  • Oleksandr Talavera

    (School of Management, Swansea University)

Abstract

This paper studies information diffusion in social media and the role of information dissemination in shaping public opinions. Using Twitter data on the 2016 EU Referendum and the 2016 US Presidential Election, we find that information about these two events is spread quickly on Twitter, most likely within 1-2 hours. There are also interactions among different types of Twitter agents in spreading information with a considerable spillover from bot to human tweeting activities. However, the degree of influence depends on whether bots provide consistent information with humans' priors. This finding lends support to the "echo chambers" effect on Twitter that Twitter users are more likely to expose to information supporting their own views while ignore the opposite information. Further examination shows that sentiment matters in information acquiring and sharing. Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled by the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, increases the polarization of public opinions about the EU Referendum and the US Election.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Tho Pham & Oleksandr Talavera, 2018. "Social media, sentiment and public opinions: Evidence from #Brexit and #USElection," Working Papers 2018-01, Swansea University, School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:swn:wpaper:2018-01
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Tribalism, Terranism, and Technology: The Pitfalls and Promises of Globalization
      by Jason Barr in Skynomics Blog on 2018-10-19 12:14:07

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    Cited by:

    1. Toke Aidt & Facundo Albornoz & Esther Hauk, 2019. "Foreign influence and domestic policy: a survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 7567, CESifo.
    2. Rui Fan & Oleksandr Talavera & Vu Tran, 2018. "Does connection with @realDonaldTrump affect stock prices?," Working Papers 2018-07, Swansea University, School of Management.
    3. Toke S. Aidt & Facundo Albornoz & Esther Hauk, 2019. "Foreign Influence and Domestic Policy: A Survey," Working Papers 1072, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    4. Rui Fan & Oleksandr Talavera & Vu Tran, 2020. "Social media bots and stock markets," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 26(3), pages 753-777, June.
    5. Ekaterina Zhuravskaya & Maria Petrova & Ruben Enikolopov, 2020. "Political Effects of the Internet and Social Media," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 12(1), pages 415-438, August.
    6. Pawel Dlotko & Simon Rudkin & Wanling Qiu, 2019. "An Economic Topology of the Brexit vote," Papers 1909.03490, arXiv.org.
    7. Tolga Buz & Gerard de Melo, 2021. "Should You Take Investment Advice From WallStreetBets? A Data-Driven Approach," Papers 2105.02728, arXiv.org.
    8. Ekaterina Zhuravskaya & Maria Petrova & Ruben Enikolopov, 2020. "Political Effects of the Internet and Social Media," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 12(1), pages 415-438, August.
    9. Toke S. Aidt & Facundo Albornoz & Esther Hauk, 2019. "Foreign influence and domestic policy," Discussion Papers 2019-03, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    10. Giacomo De Luca & Thilo R. Huning & Paulo Santos Monteiro, 2021. "Britain has had enough of experts? Social networks and the Brexit referendum," Discussion Papers 21/01, Department of Economics, University of York.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Brexit; US Election; Information diffusion; Echo chambers; Political Bots; Twitter;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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