Network Analysis of Digital and Social Media

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    Dynamics of Conflicts on the Twitter Social Network: a case study on the use of chloroquine in Brazil
    ( 2021-01-05) De Franca, Fabricio ; Dos Santos, Carlos ; Penteado, Claudio ; Goya, Denise ; Mazim, Lucas ; Kamienski, Carlos ; Di Genova, Daniel ; Ramos, Diogo
    Concerns about the advances of the COVID-19 epidemic have sparked many debates around the world. One such discussion revolved around the use of the drug called chloroquine, initially thought to be effective in reducing the mortality rate of the infection. Particularly in Brazil, even after new studies pointed to the drug's ineffectiveness, the federal government kept the recommendation of this drug as an official treatment. The publication of an official authorization of the use of chloroquine on Twitter sparked an intense debate on social media with arguments against and in favor. This paper studies the dynamics of interactions among different user groups around this discussion, relying on network science and topic modeling analyses. Our results highlight two distinct behaviors in Twitter interaction networks, where retweets serve as positive reinforcements within information bubbles and replies act as a space of direct debate. Also, discussions are seeded by public figures, but regular users carry on the debate per se. The topic modeling analyses revealed three observable user groups in this debate: strong supporters of the Brazilian government, progressive opposition to this government, and moderate users that oppose to this specific topic but do not reject the government agenda as a whole.
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    Country Characteristics, Internet Connectivity and Combating Misinformation: A Network Analysis of Global North-South
    ( 2021-01-05) Seo, Hyunjin ; Thorson, Stuart ; Blomberg, Matthew ; Appling, Scott ; Bras, Andrea ; Davis-Roberts, Avery ; Altschwager, Darcey
    Analyzing data on 152 countries using network and regression analyses, this study examined how countries’ positions in the global Internet network are associated with their political, economic, and technological characteristics, and how those characteristics are related to media, information, and digital (MID) education programs in the countries. This research shows countries with higher levels of international Internet bandwidth capacity, Internet use, and press freedom status are more likely to have MID programs that are comprehensive. Differences between Global North and Global South countries were significant both in terms of Internet capacity and use and in terms of MID complexity and dimensions. MID literacy education is an important long-term solution to misinformation, as such education informs people’s epistemological beliefs which in turn have direct effects on their comprehension of various issues and topics. This study offers important scholarly and policy implications in the areas of digital connectivity, MID literacies, misinformation, and international communication. In particular, it offers guidance for comparative studies in this area.
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    Building Images of “President Trump”: Comparing Co-evolutions of the Trade War Discourse between Influencers and Regular Users on Twitter
    ( 2021-01-05) Jiang, Ke ; Xu, Qian
    Using semantic network analysis, this paper examines how three types of Twitter influencers and the regular Twitter users frame “President Trump” in the discourses of Trade War. In addition to revealing the central words and word clusters adopted by the different categories of Twitter users, this paper also studies how central words co-evolved over time between three types of Twitter influencers and regular users by using coherency and time lag analysis. Overall, we discovered that three types of Twitter influencers all took a negative stance on illustrating the President Trump’s image, while the regular Twitter users demonstrated polarized attitudes toward it. The significant time lags between the highly co-evolved word pairs indicated complicated interactions between Twitter influencers and regular Twitter users.
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    A Link Communities Analysis of the UK Instagram Covid-19 Searchable Metadiscourse
    ( 2021-01-05) Rathnayake, Chamil ; Suthers, Daniel D.
    Many studies focus on utterances included within specific hashtags. This approach does not adequately acknowledge the fact that social media discourse is distributed across a wide range of hashtags. To assess such ‘width of discourse’, we examine the extent to which dominant hashtags in the UK Covid-19 Instagram discourse connect with hashtags related to different aspects of social life. A network of Instagram hashtags (31,742 nodes and 107,367 edges) constructed using #nhsheroes, #captaintommoore, and #carehomes as key access points was analysed. Results showed that top nodes in the network representing these and other topics related to the pandemic are highly intertwined. Moreover, results revealed that despite connections among each other, hubs in this network tend to connect more with low degree frames, connecting secondary hashtags to the Covid-19 searchable discourse. Results revealed that a diverse set of local structures consisting of secondary frames are nested within pandemic related communities.
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    Introduction to the Minitrack on Network Analysis of Digital and Social Media
    ( 2021-01-05) Rosen, Devan ; Barnett, George ; Chu, Kar-Hai