Exposure to the Russian Internet Research Agency Foreign Influence Campaign on Twitter in the 2016 US Election and Its Relationship to Attitudes and Voting Behavior
Nature Communications, 2023
There is widespread concern that foreign actors are using social media to interfere in elections worldwide. Yet data have been unavailable to investigate links between exposure to foreign influence campaigns and political behavior. Using longitudinal survey data from US respondents linked to their Twitter feeds, we quantify the relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and attitudes and voting behavior in the 2016 US election. We demonstrate, first, that exposure to Russian disinformation accounts was heavily concentrated: only 1% of users accounted for 70% of exposures. Second, exposure was concentrated among users who strongly identified as Republicans. Third, exposure to the Russian influence campaign was eclipsed by content from domestic news media and politicians. Finally, we find no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior. The results have implications for understanding the limits of election interference campaigns on social media.
Social Media, Information, and Politics: Insights on Latinos in the U.S.
Working Paper, November 2022
News & Views
Twitter Was Central to American Politics. Musk’s Ownership Puts That at Risk.
Since taking over at Twitter, Elon Musk's personal beliefs have had an outsized influence on the platform. As its content and user base evolve, it's unclear whether a Musk owned Twitter can maintain the platform's central role in the American political media landscape.
May 25, 2023
Feedback on EU Article 40
In response to the European Commission's Digital Services Act, we submitted comments highlighting the importance of data access for independent research and suggested standards for data access mechanisms.
May 23, 2023
Social media is used by millions of Americans to acquire political news and information. Most of this research has focused on understanding the way social media consumption affects the political behavior and preferences of White Americans. Much less is known about Latinos’ political activity on social media, who are not only the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the U.S., but they also continue to exhibit diverse political preferences. Moreover, about 30% of Latinos rely primarily on Spanish-language news sources (Spanish-dominant Latinos) and another 30% are bilingual. Given that Spanish-language social media is not as heavily monitored for misinformation than its English-language counterparts (Valencia, 2021; Paul, 2021), Spanish-dominant Latinos who rely on social media for news may be more susceptible to political misinformation than those Latinos who are exposed to English-language social media. We address this contention by fielding an original study that sampled a large number of Latino and White respondents. Consistent with our expectations, Latinos who rely on Spanish-language social media are more likely to believe in election fraud than those who use both English and Spanish social media new sources. We also find that Latinos engage in more political activities on social media when compared to White Americans, particularly on their social media of choice, WhatsApp.