A long-term analysis of polarization on Twitter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Social media has played an important role in shaping political discourse over the last decade. It is often perceived to have increased political polarization, thanks to the scale of discussions and their public nature. Here, we try to answer whether political polarization in the US on Twitter has increased over the last eight years. We analyze a large longitudinal Twitter dataset of 679,000 users and look at signs of polarization in their (i) network - how people follow political and media accounts, (ii) tweeting behavior - whether they retweet content from both sides, and (iii) content - how partisan the hashtags they use are. Our analysis shows that online polarization has indeed increased over the past eight years and that, depending on the measure, the relative change is 10%-20%. Our study is one of very few with such a long-term perspective, encompassing two US presidential elections and two mid-term elections, providing a rare longitudinal analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th International Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2017
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781577357889
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 15 May 201718 May 2017
Conference number: 11


ConferenceInternational AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media
Abbreviated titleICWSM
Internet address


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