United Kingdom

Academic Research

  • Journal Article

    The Times They Are Rarely A-Changin': Circadian Regularities in Social Media Use

    Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media, 2021

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    This paper uses geolocated Twitter histories from approximately 25,000 individuals in 6 different time zones and 3 different countries to construct a proper time-zone dependent hourly baseline for social media activity studies.  We establish that, across multiple regions and time periods, interaction with social media is strongly conditioned by traditional bio-rhythmic or “Circadian” patterns, and that in the United States, this pattern is itself further conditioned by the ideological bent of the user. Using a time series of these histories around the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, we show that external events of great significance can disrupt traditional social media activity patterns, and that this disruption can be significant (in some cases doubling the amplitude and shifting the phase of activity up to an hour). We find that the disruption of use patterns can last an extended period of time, and in many cases, aspects of this disruption would not be detected without a circadian baseline.

    Area of Study

    Date Posted

    Apr 26, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Political Knowledge and Misinformation in the Era of Social Media: Evidence From the 2015 UK Election

    British Journal of Political Science, 2022

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    Does social media educate voters, or mislead them? This study measures changes in political knowledge among a panel of voters surveyed during the 2015 UK general election campaign while monitoring the political information to which they were exposed on the Twitter social media platform. The study's panel design permits identification of the effect of information exposure on changes in political knowledge. Twitter use led to higher levels of knowledge about politics and public affairs, as information from news media improved knowledge of politically relevant facts, and messages sent by political parties increased knowledge of party platforms. But in a troubling demonstration of campaigns' ability to manipulate knowledge, messages from the parties also shifted voters' assessments of the economy and immigration in directions favorable to the parties' platforms, leaving some voters with beliefs further from the truth at the end of the campaign than they were at its beginning.

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Reports & Analysis

  • Analysis
    The Brexit flag waving in the wind.

    Here’s What 29 Million Tweets Can Teach Us About Brexit

    Britain’s vote to leave the European Union caused a dramatic surge in Brexit-related tweets. Our analysis of millions of them provides key insights into the success of the “leave” campaign, the surprising dominance of economic issues in the online debate, and the referendum’s increasingly global audience.

    July 20, 2016

  • Report
    Brexit protestors near the Houses of Parliament, London.

    Brexit Data Report

    What can social media teach us about the motivations of Brexit voters and the global ramifications of the referendum? After analyzing 29 million tweets on the topic, we provide key insights about user views.

    July 14, 2016

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News & Commentary

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