Tweeting for the Cause: Network analysis of UK petition sharing

01/01/2021
by   Peter Cihon, et al.
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Online government petitions represent a new data-rich mode of political participation. This work examines the thus far understudied dynamics of sharing petitions on social media in order to garner signatures and, ultimately, a government response. Using 20 months of Twitter data comprising over 1 million tweets linking to a petition, we perform analyses of networks constructed of petitions and supporters on Twitter, revealing implicit social dynamics therein. We find that Twitter users do not exclusively share petitions on one issue nor do they share exclusively popular petitions. Among the over 240,000 Twitter users, we find latent support groups, with the most central users primarily being politically active "average" individuals. Twitter as a platform for sharing government petitions, thus, appears to hold potential to foster the creation of and coordination among a new form of latent support interest groups online.

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